Sex and Summer Farce

A French indie delivers a juicy respite from the normal Hollywood drivel

Both the plotline and the dialogue suggest that Fassbinder was already working in the métier that defined his mature career: dark farce, an off-kilter tragicomedy that careens from seriousness to laughter and back again. Certainly the early Leo/Franz scenes manage this delicate gyration, but several of Ozon's later choices seem heavy-handed, directorial impositions that might satisfy the need to assert his stamp on the dead master's material but fail to help his own cause in so doing. Instead of such impositions, Ozon might have focused more attention on the film's resolution, the one place in the script where the living would have done well to rewrite the dead.

Nevertheless Water Drops on Burning Rocks is a diverting, engaging film, the sort of Euro concoction that continues to attract a small but devoted local following while the masses prefer to sizzle on the beaches and the dance floors. French film buffs should be pleased as well as those seeking an antidote, if only for a short, air-conditioned hour and a half, to these dog days and nights.

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