(out of 5)
Maria Braun (Hanna Schygulla) awaits her husband’s return from World War II, doing her best to survive with the few food rations she has to share with her mother, until she finds out that her husband has died in battle. She has a love affair with an American soldier that ends badly when her husband returns from a prisoner of war camp, not dead after all, but he is then sent to prison for a lengthy period of time. In the meantime, Maria gets business savvy and works her way up in a profitable company until her husband is freed and she can take care of him in a brand new post-war luxury home. This beautifully filmed piece by Rainer Werner Fassbinder plays it a bit too straight to be captivating, and plods along without much inspired rhythm. It does, however, feature a spitfire performance by the always stunning Schygulla, who navigates herself from vulnerable to iconic bitterness without bursting a bead of sweat.
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus
Music by Peer Raben
Production Design by Norbert Scherer
Costume Design by Barbara Baum
Film Editing by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Juliane Lorenz