Monday, December 25, 2017

Fatih Akin's revenge/morality tale, IN THE FADE, gives Diane Kruger a terrific role....

...which she tackles and wrests quite sadly and quietly to the ground. Ms Kruger is one of those actresses -- Farewell My Queen, The Bridge (American version), Disorder -- whose delicate beauty can easily mask her talent, or at least sometimes overwhelm the viewer's ability to concentrate on the latter. In her latest (Cannes-winning Best Actress) role of Katja, the wife and mother, who, near the beginning of IN THE FADE, suffers an unimaginable loss, that beauty is tamped down some, while the talent remains strong.

The co-writer (with Hark Bohm) and director of the film is Fatih Akin (shown below), the well-known and well-regarded German filmmaker born (in 1973) of Turkish parents, whose previous films, as well as this one, tend to deal with "outsiders," along with society's reaction to them.

Whether these films are drama (Head-On), comedy (Soul Kitchen) or tinged with mystery/thriller elements (The Edge of Heaven and this latest addition), the movies always seem to bulge out of their genre: the comedy grows dark, the drama gets crazy, and now, with In the Fade, what at first looks like a thriller complete with aspects of terrorism and revenge, grows into something more. As usual, it's the "more" that makes Herr Akin such an interesting but also somewhat elusive and less conventionally satisfying filmmaker. I am not certain that he will ever manage a typically mainstream movie (nor, I suspect, would he want to), but this is why TrustMovies will never miss a film of his if I can help it.

As usual, the less you know about the movie, plot-wise, the better in terms of your enjoyment and surprise. Ms Kruger (above, left, and below, right) plays a character who fell in love with her drug dealer (Numan Acar, above, right) when still a very young woman, waited for him to finish his relatively small prison term, married him, conceived a child (below) and is in the process of the (relatively) happy-ever-after section of life -- when all this is suddenly interrupted.

The event leads to a police investigation, during which Katja's history comes back to haunt, a trial (below and further below) involving home-grown terrorists (some of the details of which will set your teeth on edge), and then a judgement that results in vengeance, along with quite a bit more.

Mr. Akin is concerned with themes of immigration (of which he himself is a product), and a Germany in which neo-Nazis, who have been alive and consistently kicking since just post-World War II, are gaining strength and seem even stronger in today's world, where alternative "facts" via the internet seem ever more available and aggressive.

Akin's movie moves from the simpler questions of why and then how to the more complicated ones of now what? and is this justice? and then to the queasy convolutions that right and wrong can sometimes take. Along the way, there is plenty of suspense and even a few thrills, and if the filmmaker were merely making a revenge tale, we would probably have had a much more conventional and obviously enjoyable, if simplistic time.

Instead, we're put into the mind and soul of Katja, her grief and her anger, and Ms Kruger sees to it that we respond to this darkness, finally asking ourselves, Might be do something similar -- if we had the guts and commitment? The journey, let alone the destination, is not an easy one, but it is certainly worthwhile. Just don't expect the simple-mindedness of a Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood movie. In the Fade may be neither blockbuster entertainment nor great art, but it is good film-making -- with a mind, heart and morality all its own.

From Magnolia Pictures and running 106 minutes, the movie opens this Wednesday, December 27, in New York City (at the IFC Center and the new Landmark 57th Street) and Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Royal) before making its way around the rest of the country in limited release over the weeks to come. It hits South Florida on January 26 at Fort Lauderdale's Savor Cinema, Hollywood's Cinema Paradiso, and Miami's Tower Theater. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters. 

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