The late great Ranier Werner Fassbinder, German cinema’s tortured beating heart, provides another slice of love, lust, birth and death with I Only Want You to Love Me. Its framing device is an interview between Peter, a youngish man, and a woman who probes him about his life so far. Their relationship isn’t immediately important but towards the end of the film the situation that they are in becomes the embodiment of what the film puts forward – if you wear your heart on your sleeve, then you’re going to get beaten down.
This is territory that Fassbinder treads in every one of his films – love between two unloveables, in dreary surroundings, and the banality of life for people who are too good for it. This is an incredibly kitchen-sink melodrama that doesn’t shirk from humanity, but presents its subjects nakedly (literally and metaphorically), their every bruise on show. The IMDb plot keywords perfectly sum up the film, and could stand for any of Fassbinder’s films – ‘Husband Wife Relationship, Mother Son Relationship, Male Frontal Nudity, Father Son Relationship, Marriage, Based On Book’.
The only problem is that for a cynical movie-goer, reared on wise-cracking cops, the film can seem terribly naive, and such pure emotion can sometimes be too much to handle. It’s too pretentious and condescending to say that good things need work to appreciate, but this film gives the viewer everything that they need to understand about the human condition, on a plate. It may be a German made-for-TV movie from the 1970’s, but it’s still worth the time of anyone today.