The third film in Fassbender’s so-called BRD trilogy, the story of Lola is set in the West German town of Coburg during the late 50’s. It’s a tale of post war reconstruction, the economic miracle, corruption and above all, moral bankruptcy.

The ever-excellent Mario Adorf plays Schuckert, a filthy rich sleaze-pot and building profiteer who owns most of the city including a high-class brothel called ‘Villa Fink’ which he and his colleagues frequent on a regular basis. In fact, Schuckert is of the firm belief that everything and everyone in this world can be obtained by means of money, especially Lola (Barbara Sukowa), a talented singer who somehow ended up as a whore working in the very brothel he owns. Of course, Lola despises him and all her other clients but Schuckert pays well and – let’s face it - working and singing in a brothel is perhaps better than working in a supermarket check-out… or a housekeeper and cleaner, which is what her mother (Karin Baal) does for a living.

One day a highly disciplined and highly cultured East Prussian refugee by the name of Von Bohm (Armin Müller-Stahl) arrives in Coburg to take on the position of the new building commissioner – aided by his likeable and eager-to-please secretary Miss Hettich (Helga Feddersen). As it so happens, Von Bohm hires Lola’s mother as his new housekeeper and the two get on well in a master/servant kind of way, he even begs her to give him orders while at home because he shouts orders all day long while at work. Von Bohm doesn’t mind that his new housekeeper takes her granddaughter with her whenever she cooks or cleans. One day, while he’s at work, she shows her daughter Marie-Louise around the noble house of Von Bohm. Marie-Louise is none other than ‘Lola’ and the little girl is in fact her daughter… while Schuckert, himself married to a wealthy and snobbish society lady, is the secret father of the little girl. When Marie-Louise aka Lola realises that Von Bohm seems to have penchant for Asian vases and ceramics she hatches a plan and – as if by coincidence – corners Von Bohm in the public library with the pretence to be interested in ancient Asian vases! The plan works and soon Von Bohm – a deeply romantic man – is hopelessly smitten and begins to court Marie-Louise without having the faintest idea about the young woman’s double-life nor the fact that his housekeeper is her mother! Likewise, Lola’s mother has no idea that the mysterious young woman her employer seems to have fallen for is her daughter!
It’s the perfect recipe for disaster and just as Von Bohm prepares for his engagement to Marie-Louise he receives an intriguing note from her that reads: “It was nice singing with you but all songs come to an end”. Baffled by the strange message and the abrupt ending of their relationship Von Bohm throws himself into work, determined to bring the town’s corruption to a halt. One evening Schuckert, in a well-meaning attempt to cheer up Von Bohm, takes him to the local brothel and boasts about the famous singing whore Lola who is ‘his possession’. It is here that Von Bohm realises that Lola is none other than Marie-Louise, causing him to have a meltdown which quickly turns into anger… Despite the odds, a happy ending is on the horizon nonetheless though it’s a happy ending Fassbinder style!

Fassbinder’s parable was as poignant in 1981 as it is poignant now – the never-ending story of how the greed for money brings out the pig in us all. Sukowa, Müller-Stahl and Adorf are excellent as the key players in this ménage-a-trois and it’s all the more shattering yet perfectly realistic that in the end, even Von Bohm can be bought. Echoes of Von Sternberg’s cult classic The Blue Angel (in which Marlene Dietrich plays a prostitute/singer called Lola Lola) ring through.
The movie’s vivid colours look particularly vibrant in this new 4K restoration and we even get some Bonus Features including interviews.