Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Fresh out of police training, Schrader plans to do "as little as possible". Inspector Minks, who busted him at an illegal rave for drugs possession, has other ideas. He wants the street-smart youngster to find his missing daughter who disappeared into Berlin's demi-monde two years before.

Minks and Schrader's respective plans are interrupted by a series of bizarre, seemingly ritualistic murders. Someone is killing people with tattoos and skinning them.

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On the strength of this film, writer/director Robert Schwentke is a talent to watch. Though he obviously riffs on/rips off Se7en, with the pairing of grizzled veteran and fresh-faced rookie, twisted murders, intellectual allusions and rain soaked-streets, he does so with considerable elan.

Schwentke has a clear vision of how he wants Berlin to look - cold, harsh, inhuman, alienated - and skilfully uses everything in the filmmaker's arsenal - lighting, colour, production and sound design, camera set ups and movement, you name it - to ensure we get the message.

This is not to say Tattoo is perfect. Some of the plot twists will be obvious to anyone remotely familiar with the giallo ("You just don't seem like a cop. But who is what they seem?"). The character developments are somewhat exaggerated in view of the time period the film covers, more Road to Damascus conversions than organic growths. Worst of all the ending, seemingly devised to pave the way for a sequel, is deeply unsatisfactory.

However, the quality of Schwentke's visuals - a Kiss Me Deadly-style opening, a beautifully realised Argentoesque meeting in the pouring rain, a Third Man sewer tunnel sequence - provides ample compensation.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2002
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Tattoo packshot
Stylish German Se7en style thriller.
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Director: Robert Schwentke

Writer: Robert Schwentke

Starring: August Diehl, Christian Redl, Nadesha Brennicke, Ilkur Bahadir, Jasmin Schwiers, Monika Bleibtreu, Fatih Cevikkollu, Johan Leysen, Ingo Naujoks, Florian Panzner, Gustav-Peter Wohler

Year: 2002

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany


EIFF 2002
EIFF 2001

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If you like this, try:

Kiss Me Deadly