We could all write volumes, or stay up for nights on end , discussing the whats and whys of Fassbinder’s casting of his own mother. It is unusual to say the least, especially when she wasn’t an actress – but Lilo Pempeit was very much a part of the group – as it is called – and although she begun by sorting out the tangled finances of Tango Films, I have the feeling that anybody who was in the director’s vicinity for any amount of time, was going to end up on film.
There’s also the fact that she is a very great and natural actress, who clearly enjoyed the work on this side of the camera too. And she certainly is motherly here; all the mother that Elvira has. She looks like a mother, stares motherly, and then tells the amazing story to mic, perhaps thinking it to herself as she walks the cloisters.
She’s a nice nun — Sister Gudrun — and we’re almost built up to her introduction expecting the old hostile religious figure kind of character. Reminded me a little of the nice cops in Ali-Fear East the Soul; it’s funny that we expect them to be damning of the situation, like the church, but they’re not. No; there’s enough wickedness and damnation going on in families, and on the street. Clutching her Schopenhauer volume, it might be one of her best roles.