Ivan Desny who plays Wittich in Lola (1981) was a Russian actor who was born in China, and worked most of his life in Germany, building up an impressive CV of over 150 films until he died in 2002. He was always a perfect Fassbinder actor, as he quickly and easily portrayed a certain type of hypocritical man, both respectable but with another side – as he is here – one of the city fathers, who like the mayor himself, spends his time in the local whorehouse.

 

If you don’t know Fassbinder you probably think that he’s a so-called arthouse film director; he’s released on arthouse labels, it’s true, and watched by arthouse crowds; but when you mean arthouse you probably think of films low on story, often obscure, abstruse and needlessly pretentious.

What I like about Fassbinder is that he avoids all this, and aside from maybe two or three films, he produces wholly formed dramas. Fassbinder had no time to go to screenwriting courses or attend lectures on the important rules of script creation; and so it must have all been innate, and developed from a keen sense as a film viewer. It means blessed relief for the viewer, as every character serves a dramatic purpose, and each film appears at least in terms of script, a perfect functioning dramatic unity.

Wittich is usually found surrounded by girls in the whorehouse and is something a lynchpin in a film rolling with local grotesques and small minds with big ideas.