François Ozon is one of France’s most prolific filmmakers, directing 21 features and a handful of shorts since 1997. But his latest, “Peter von Kant,” is one of the most unique films of the director’s career. The playful spin on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” is more than just a gender-swapped remake of Fassbinder’s classic German film about an abusive fashion designer.
Ozon made waves by reimagining Fassbinder’s film as an experimental biography of the director himself, casting Denis Menochet as a thinly veiled allegory for the legendary director, and replacing other characters in the film with members of his inner circle. The resulting movie was a hit at the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival and is set to make its North American theatrical debut this weekend. Watch the exclusive trailer below.
“The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” starred Margit Carstensen as the eponymous fashion designer, who participates in a brutally sadomasochistic relationship with her young assistant. The melodramatic film was notable for its all-female cast and Fassbinder’s unique stylistic decision to confine the vast majority of the film to Petra’s apartment. The movie was based on a play that Fassbinder wrote, and much of the four-act film utilizes an approach that was highly influenced by the world of theatre. The 1972 film was one of Fassbinder’s first major successes, paving the way for more significant films such as 1974’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.”
“Peter von Kant” stars Denis Menochet as the eponymous Peter von Kant, but it does not stick to the original film’s single-gender casting style. Isabelle Adjani, Khalil Ben Gharbia, Hanna Schygulla (who starred in the original film), Stefan Crepon, and Aminthe Audiard also star. Ozon directed it from a script that he wrote himself.
In his IndieWire review, Ben Croll praised Denis Menochet’s performance, saying that by “playing his character as a blustery mix of John Falstaff and Franz Biberkopf, Menochet delivers career-best work, taking a (self-referential) film full of slight and rather naval-gazy pleasures and leaving his mark on every single frame.”
“Peter von Kant” has its North American premiere at Frameline at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco on Sunday, June 26. The film recently screened at the Provincetown Film Festival. Strand Releasing will open the film stateside in 2022. Along with the exclusive trailer, check out the poster campaign, with one reimagining Andy Warhol’s iconic poster of Fassbinder’s “Querelle,” and the other putting a Warholesque twist on the ensemble cast.