Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht) Reviews

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Top Critic
John Skow
TIME Magazine
March 18, 2015
Dirk Bogarde, looking natty and nerve-worn, is exactly right as the fissured Hermann, a chocolate manufacturer whose business has turned bitter.
Top Critic
Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader
March 18, 2015
The first half is oppressive, cluttered, and funny, but as the film forsakes its artificial settings for more open spaces, it becomes pale and mechanical.

This is London
March 18, 2015
[It's] Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most obsessively arty movie and by no means his best. Even so, it is wildly distinctive.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
July 30, 2012
Unpleasant but thoughtful and provocative psychodrama set in Berlin, in the 1930s.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Richard Brody
New Yorker
February 27, 2012
Fassbinder films life in the cosseted class as a masque of glass and mirrors, replete with alluring deceptions and suave surfaces that belie volcanic passions.
Peter Bradshaw
January 5, 2012
A superb surrealist noir.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
David Jenkins
Time Out
January 5, 2012
Effortlessly literate [and] gaudily stylish.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Simon Abrams
Slant Magazine
June 7, 2011
Of the authorial trifecta that created Despair, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder's voice is the most pronounced.
Fernando F. Croce
February 4, 2010
A lambent house of cards

TV Guide's Movie Guide
September 18, 2006
It is beautifully photographed by Ballhaus in a frame filled with reflective glass and mirrors.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Carloss James Chamberlin
Senses of Cinema
May 20, 2006
Bogarde never allows us to dismiss Hermann, or worse, to pity him. He remains endlessly fascinating, even at his most repellent.

People Magazine
May 6, 2006
The result is a marvel of literate, elegant dialogue and, if nothing else, Fassbinder deserves credit himself for not being afraid to take chances.
Emanuel Levy
June 26, 2005
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Vincent Canby
New York Times
May 9, 2005
The Stoppard script is a joy for anyone who likes the English language.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Spirituality and Practice
January 24, 2004
Despair is a surreal version of a Vladimir Nabokov novel with a poised performance by Dirk Bogarde.
Ted Whitehead
The Spectator
March 18, 2015
The resultant film is, he says, faithful to both Stoppard's script and Nabokov's novel; it is certainly not faithful to Fassbinder, who is here seen tripping over one style after another and ending up utterly ditched.
Wendy Ide
Times [UK]
March 18, 2015
Certainly Dirk Bogarde's performance, although arch and mannered, is uncomfortably compelling. And the cinematography is undeniably striking. But I can't say I enjoyed it.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Philip Kemp
Total Film
January 10, 2012
Everything about Despair feels queasily off - the plot, the acting, the dialogue and the fussily over-decorated sets.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid
June 10, 2011
Not one of [Fassbinder's] best.
Top Critic
Variety Staff
March 26, 2009
Despite a witty, albeit theatrical, script by Tom Stoppard, prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder does not quite bring off the spirited linguistic innovations, wit and penetrating insights of Vladimir Nabokov's novel.
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