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Concerts and Movies

Review of German film ‘In the Fade’ that won Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film

In the Fade

‘IN the Fade’ is a German film that won the Golden Globe best foreign language film award and the Cannes filmfest best actress for Diane Kruger in 2017. It’s one of the two films we just saw about a mother grieving over the death of her husband and young son. The other one is “Land”, the directorial debut of actress Robin Wright who also stars in it. The treatment of both films on the same subject matter is totally different from each other.

“In the Fade” shows Diane as Katja, a German married to a Kurdish husband, Nuri (Numan Acar). They have a six-year old son, Rocco (Rafael Santana). Nuri has been previously imprisoned for drug dealing, but he has since gone straight and has his own travel agency in Hamburg. One afternoon, Katja leaves Rocco at Nuri’s office so she can go to a spa with a friend.

When she returns, cops are swarming in the street and is told that the office of Nuri has been bombed and he died it in along with their son. The investigation shows that the bomb was planted by Neo-Nazi terrorists who worship Hitler and don’t want foreigners in Germany. The prejudiced couple who did it are arrested and a trial follows.

Katja and her lawyer are confident they will be punished, so imagine their surprise when the judge frees them due to lack of evidence. We are not comfortable how the film is resolved, but there’s no doubt Diane Kruger stands out in the film. Diane has appeared in many Hollywood films, like “National Treasure” with Nicolas Cage and also played Helen in “Troy” opposite Orlando Bloom.

She does a totally dramatic turn in this movie where she is in almost every scene. She descends into depression and drug use as the grieving wife and mother. The film is uneven, but she gives it the emotional core and resonance as she effectively conveys her inner feelings of agony and trauma in many scenes. The scene where she goes to a funeral parlor to choose two coffins for her husband and child is quite devastating.

The sequence where she listens to a forensic report on the injuries inflicted by the bomb to her son is equally harrowing. It’s a finely nuanced, beautifully modulated performance of a victim who turns into an avenging angel. The final act is really quite disappointing as it slides into ‘vengeance is mine’ category after its compelling, layered start.

The film is written and directed by Fatih Akin, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents. He says the film was inspired by a string of German hate crimes in which the police seem to focus more on the community of the victims and was lenient on intolerance and the terrorists.