Intended as just another chapter in the continuing indictment of the post-war German economic recovery, but Fassbinder's death means that this will have to take its place as a loose third panel of the Maria Braun/Lola triptych. Unlike those heroines, however, Veronika (Zech) doesn't even pretend to any kind of upward social mobility. When 'discovered' by a crusading journalist (Thate), she is already on the skids, a washed-up Third Reich film star. His infatuation and subsequent investigation reveals her dependency on a snow white clinic, and her sado-masochistic relationship with the female doctor who feeds her morphine habit; and that's just the beginning of the downward slide. If Sirk's colourful melodramas were once Fassbinder's models, this is closer to Wilder's monochrome Sunset Boulevard, not just in theme, but in the reductive cynicism that views all human motivation as grounded on folly and greed; a world in which love is just a power struggle, dirty 'habits' are murderous, and happiness is simply the art of being well deceived. CPea.