In case you haven’t heard, neo-Nazis are in the news again – not just in the US but across Europe too. The resurgence of what was, until recently, a fringe movement for many years forms the backdrop for the latest film by acclaimed German-Turkish filmmaker, Fatih Akin.
Presented in three parts, IN THE FADE tells the fictional story of Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS), a German woman who lives in Hamburg with her Kurdish husband, Nuri (Numan Acar, TV’s HOMELAND), and their five-year-old son, Rocco. As the film opens, we see handheld video of Katja and Nuri getting married in prison where Nuri is housed after being busted for drug trafficking. Now, 5+ years later, Nuri runs a respectable tax consulting business/translation service/travel agency in the heart of the city’s Turkish community and Katja is his bookkeeper. They seem to be living the German dream but it comes to abrupt end when a bomb goes off in front of Nuri’s shopfront. Nuri and Rocco are killed instantly, and in her shock and grief Katja has to deal with the police who think the attack was related to Nuri’s drug-dealing past. Katja, however, feels it was the neo-Nazis who did it and it turns out she is right. In the midst of trying to piece her life back together, she now has to face her family’s killers in court only to discover that sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands.
Certainly, the first two parts of IN THE FADE are done well, playing much like an episode of TV’s LAW AND ORDER, although the German court system is very different from its American counterpart – three judges, no jury, the victim’s family gets representation and the lawyers raise their hands when they want to address the court. The film’s final act disappoints however, as Akin takes a page out of the 1974 film, DEATH WISH, and Katja turns to vigilantism. It’s not that it’s not believable. Kruger throws herself into the role well (she even won the Best Actress award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival), it just seems like the lazy way for the story to play out.
Although the film won the Best Foreign Language award at this year’s Golden Globes, and was nominated as Germany’s entry to the equivalent category at the Oscars, it failed to make the shortlist. Sadly, both the film and the story had plenty of potential but neither delivered the goods in the end.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live in RTHK Radio 4’s studio on Thursday, May 3rd at 8:30 am HK time!
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