Viewing "Veronika Voss," a gloomy, fragmented film, is only slightly more fun than sitting on Kaiser Wilhelm's hat.
Rosel Zech plays Voss, a character based on German actress Sybille Schmitz, a drug addict who committed suicide. Flimsy females were favored by the late director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died shortly after making this film, the third in his post- war trilogy after "Lola" and "The Marriage of Maria Braun."
It is 1955 in Munich when a reporter (Hilmar Thate) offers Veronika Voss shelter under his umbrella. She invites him to tea and borrows 300 marks to buy a brooch. He is smitten by this over-powdered, beagle- nosed old star and slips away to spend the night with her. She goes into withdrawal and has to be rushed to the home of evil Dr. Katz (Annemarie Duringer), who addicts rich patients to morphine to appropriate their property.
Voss is a Pierrot doll, aping Marlene Dietrich, as she sings one last moody melody in her house full of shrouded furniture. It is her going-away party -- heh, heh -- and the ominous Dr. Katz hovers behind her like the possessive lover. (It's a whisper of lesbianism that never quite comes out of the closet.) As Katz's clients run out of money, she cuts off the dope and locks them in a room with a bottle of sleeping pills. We leave Veronika in such a bright, white room.
She's flashing back in high contrast, black and white, a finale for eyestrain. And the music is distracting: "16 Tons" and the "Battle of New Orleans" blast over the German dialogue. Ends dangle, resolve is lost and characters act without motivation.
So, "Voss" ist das? VERONIKA VOSS -- At the Key.