In The Fade

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

In The Fade
"Akin asks us to shift our perceptions of terrorist attacks in deliberately provocative ways, constantly flipping what we think we know and what we expect to see right up until the film's haunting final image."

After the lacklustre teenage road trip of Goodbye Berlin, Fatih Akin takes us on a much more emotionally affecting and hard-hitting journey in his latest film, which won a Golden Globe and has also been short-listed for the Foreign Language Oscar. In it he asks us to shift our perceptions of terrorist attacks in deliberately provocative ways, constantly flipping what we think we know and what we expect to see right up until the film's haunting final image. It's worth forgetting the, 'What on earth is that supposed to mean?' English title of the film and bear in mind the German one when watching it - the irony-steeped 'From Nothing'.

In an economical set-up, Akin gives us all the information we need to jump to our own conclusions about Nuri (Numan Acar) and his wife Katja (Diane Kruger). We see them marrying - he emerging from a prison cell for the occasion - and catch up with them some years later as their happy family unit has been expanded to three, after the arrival of son, Rocco, now five.

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This sort of happiness in movies is rarely tolerated for long and soon a nail bomb rips through their lives, leaving Katja reeling. To say too much about the culprits here would be to spoil some of the ways in which Akin keeps the viewer deliberately off-kilter but once they are in the dock, we become fully stewed in Katja's experience, as Akin displays agility in terms of shooting the procedural aspects, maintaining a tension and using inventive angles to keep the courtroom action flowing. Compassion emerges in unexpected places, not from her family or that of Nuri's, who become so wrapped up in the fate of what is left of the dead that they forget the living, but from someone Katja least expects.

The last few months have been marked by strong examinations of grief and the anger it can generate, including Frances McDormand's vengeful mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Bogdan Dumitrache's gradual descent into murderousness as the father of a missing child in Pororoca. Kruger matches them step for step with her performance here, waves of grief crystallising into a hardness that seems paradoxically brittle and unbreakable. As Akin begins to tighten the screw, it may have the tension of a traditional revenge thriller but it is overlaid with a robust intellectual framework that asks us to think about forms of extremism and how we can better combat them within our society so that they don't suck others into their cycle of violence.

Reviewed on: 11 Jan 2018
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In The Fade packshot
Revenge thriller set in the aftermath of a bombing.

Director: Fatih Akin

Writer: Fatih Akin

Starring: Diane Kruger, Numan Acar, Ulrich Tukur, Siir Eloglu, Jessica McIntyre, Ulrich Brandhoff

Year: 2017

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Germany


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