I’d never seen this Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, so I put it in my queue to correct the gap. Mother Kusters son and wife live with her and her husband in Frankfort and the film opens with the young couple bickering in the kitchen (as usual , or so it seems). On the news they hear that a man has killed his boss’ son the then turned the gun on himself. When there is a knock at the door they learn that the murder-suicide perpetrator was Mother Kusters husband. No one can figure it out. MK calls her estranged daughter who is a singer in Munich and asks her to come home as she gives her the news. She reluctantly agrees.
The film then commences a sardonic poke at the mass media, as they hover, asks inane questions, and snap pictures of the grieving wife. At the funeral, there is a young, well-dressed couple hovering, and they approach Mother Kusters and offer her a ride. They turn out to be cocktail communists and turn her to their cause as she later joins the party. She believes they will help her rehabilitate her husband’s name which was trashed in the media. When they fallout (they move to slowly for her and she can wait no longer) she is approached by an anarchist who tells her he has more immediate remedies. All factions want to exploit her unwanted celebrity. She just wants to combat the “lies” written about her husband. Even her daughter, who has thrown her lot in with the journalist who betrayed her mother’s trust, exploits the tragedy – she bills herself as “The Daughter of the Factory Murderer” in a singing gig her journalist lover has gotten her with his connections.
Then the film reaches a crossroads. A scripted ending is rapidly shown on the screen for the film that was banned at the Berlin Film Festival. After that (the better ending had it been actually filmed) we see one made for distribution in the US. This ending is a little sweeter, focusing on Mother Kusters humanity. In either one though, Fassbinder leaves no exploiter untouched.