Aus dem Nichts (2017)
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Diane Kruger pops up in many English Language and French language films, performing competently and never aging, quite in addition to her day job as Muse to Karl Lagerfeldt. Here, speaking German, looking like a tattooed low life, she is Oscar worthy. She doesn't have much to say, but looks say a thousand words. The camera is so reluctant to leave her face. All the other actors, totally unknown to audiences outside Germany, are superb, her husband, and her lawyer as German born Kurds deserve particular mention for believable honest performances. The story is compelling with a slow burn and very plausible set-backs and twists. There is a court scene that it is impossible to look away from. A lack of familiarity with German legal proceedings makes it all the more riveting. The ending is dramatic and European. This film should be up for 'Best Foreign Language film' Oscar. It deserves a wide release in Australia.
The middle part is really where she has the least to work with. There is the physical attack on the female defendant, but that did not require great acting honestly. By the way, the ways in which the two defendants were basically almost completely silent throughout the film underlines as well how this is completely Kruger's film. And as for Moschitto, I normally like him a lot more than I did here. There feels something really wrong about the mix of how he was written and how he portrayed the character. It's tough to put an exact finger on it I must say what went wrong there, but it hurt the film overall quite a bit. It feels like in his baity moments, the film is intended to rather please the simple-minded with his speech on one point that is cringeworthily followed by applause in the courtroom. Or also during one scene when we hear him mention some obscenities about what the judge should have said. It's perfectly fine as I would say it fits that the character talks like that when talking to a friend and you sure could call Kruger's character that, but I don't know. It just didn't feel right. And eventually, about the third and last chapter, Kruger again saves it to some extent. The way she follows the duo for revenge is okay, but when she starts building the bomb, it really gets slightly absurd, even if there were references previously about her being skilled technically. Or the back and forth that really the bird convinces her in not killing them initially as a metaphor for innocent victims. It was a nice idea, but the occasion did look pretentious. Honestly, it did not feel believable really. The whole back and forth that also involved her potential suicide down the cliffs during the scene when it was dark. I won't tell you about what she finally decided to go for. I can only say I was definitely curious about her decision, but the way it was done in the last act with the build-up and back and forth really disappointed me a bit.
Still, despite many negative aspects, this was a solid watch. I am generally not too big on Kruger, but she won me over here and she was easily the best thing about the film. As for Akin, this was far from his best efforts though. The film was picked as the German submission for the Oscars, but I personally don't feel it is good enough to warrant a nomination. I can see it make the penultimate list of 9 though. It's tough to predict how much the Academy will like the subject, but I think as a whole the film is just too flawed at times and after coming in second most likely last year, I am not sure Germany is up there again. I personally am not too big on the subject really as I don't see it defining German history or the current state really. Do not mistaken by the high percentages for the AfD recently. Germany and its citizens are more tolerant than they have ever been, perhaps even too tolerant for their own good frequently, but this is taking thing maybe too far now. Even if you make the connection between the NSU and the terrorists in here, then it is nowhere near as defining as the RAF for example back then. Thanks to Kruger (admittedly she also had a really baity/complex character: drugs, grief as a wife, grief as a mother, trouble with parents and parents-in-law, being left alone by the judicial system etc. - it's all there), it is still a pretty good character study as a whole and it deserves to be seen while coming nowhere near must-see territory.
Head-On (Gegen die Wand) (2004) is my favorite film, directed by Fatih Akin. When I came to know that his film is showing in Dubai International Film Festival, I decided that am not going to miss this movie.
Nuri is a man not with a clean past. He is married to Katja Sekerci in the prison. But, after their Wedding and having a baby, he is a honest man, living for his loving family. But, a tragic incident happens. A bomb blast kills him and son, leaving Katja alone in great grief. The rest of the film deals with her struggle to find the culprit and revenge.
The film is divided into three chapters. Each one is unique and has it's own distinguished features. The film often reminds me of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue (Trois couleurs: Bleu) (1993).
Great performance from the actors especially the lead actress Diane Kruger. Direction, cinematography and all other technical side was really good.
A must watch for all film lovers. #KiduMovie
Akin's cinema is usually more cinematic and emotional than the work of other German filmmakers. In his best moments, Akin was able to create gritty drama about the migrant experience in Germany. But in his worst moments Akin's writing is poor and his films become vulgar. "In the Fade" contains both his strong and weak sides.
His screenplays and direction always were inspired and informed by other filmmakers, for example in "Short Sharp Shock" (1998) he used Scorsese's "Mean Streets" (1973) as the model: One scene is even an exact replica of a scene in Scorsese's film. "The Edge of Heaven" is a multiple-stories feature inspired by Iñárritu's early work. For the thriller-esque "In the Fade" Akin has probably studied Brian DePalma's films carefully: The cinematography reminded me often of DePalma, not only because Akin decided to use DePalma's 'trademark' split-focus lenses for specific shots, too. The style works well. Rainer Klausmann's gritty, but precise cinematography looks good and the film gains a poetic quality through it without sacrificing realism.
Much has been made out of the performance of Diane Kruger - and she's intense in the part. But why did Akin cast a former top model like Kruger and marries her to a Turkish ex-con? It was too hard for me to suspend my disbelief. With better cast leads and with a less annoying 'cute' kid as their son, this would have been so much better...
There are other credibility problems, for example the rather poor dialogue. It didn't sound real to me. There was plenty of opportunity here for good and serious dialogue, but you don't get much beyond crude genre lines and profanities.
The direction - especially in the courtroom scenes - is uneven and some over-the-top performances are slightly misjudged. A few times, I had to laugh, but I'm pretty sure, that was not Akin's intention, was it? It's not the actors' fault, but a case of a director who often doesn't know when 'too much' is really too much.
Mr.Akin made the same mistake here of pressing important political subject matter into old genre formula like in "The Cut" (2014), which dealt with the Armenian Genocide. Except there was little in "The Cut", that gave you an idea, that what happened in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire was the carefully planned and executed mass murder of 1,5 million Armenians by the Turkish rulers. The result was an epic designed like a John Ford 'western' that - while made with good intentions and worth seeing - pleased and educated only few people.
At least, "In the Fade" is not boring: The committed performance of Diane Kruger and the beautiful formalism of Rainer Klausmann's edgy and elegant cinematography save this populist piece of cinema from its more vulgar side, but this subject deserved a better film.
Maybe next time, Mr. Akin.