by Charles Kirkland Jr.
Diane Kruger is the female Foreigner in the movie In The Fade.
Nuri Sekerci (Numan Acar) has just come home from prison. He is living a meager life as a shop owner in Germany with his wife Katja (Diane Kruger) and their son. One day Katja drops off her son with Nuri at work so she can have a spa day with her pregnant friend Birgit. While at the spa, a bomber blows up the shop killing Nuri and their son. In the police investigation, they ask Katja about her husband’s Kurdish roots, his incarceration and everything she knows to help. Katja remembers seeing a woman leave a bicycle outside the shop as she was leaving which leads to the apprehension of the perpetrators of the bombing, a young neo-Nazi couple. When the guilty couple goes free on a technicality, Katja decides to take justice into her own hands.
Sounds interesting? Sounds familiar? Yes to both but this movie is something altogether different. Everything in the earlier paragraph summary of this movie takes almost 70 minutes of the entire 105 minute run-time of the movie! This movie is painstakingly slow and plays more like a study in psychology and law than a revenge thriller. Yet the film is compelling in that you have to watch to see what is going to happen next.
The construction of this piece of cinema is much more European (it is German) which means that it is much more pensive and thoughtful than traditional American fare. The Foreigner, starring Jackie Chan, was a very similar story in terms of the plot outline but where The Foreigner strayed into the ridiculous, In The Fade stays grounded, gritty and completely realistic. Kruger’s Katja is a typical mother driven to extremes by the absurdity of the law’s provision of justice in the face of her horrible tragedy. The viewers are taken on a journey with the point of making sure they understand the “fade” that Katja undergoes. Diane Kruger gives a stellar and wide ranging, emotional performance illustrating everything from anger to despondency. Her ability elevates this film in a way the director may not have experienced previously.
Turkish actor/director Fatih Akin attempts to inject a political message into the story as he comments upon the prejudice that Kurds face. Because of his Kurdish roots, Nuri Sekerci is suspected of blowing himself up, being a drug dealer and even being involved in a “holy war” before he is considered being just a victim. The commentary continues when it is discovered that the bombing is the result of German neo-Nazi violence directed toward immigrants. The theme does not overwhelm the film but serves as an undercurrent to the story which gives the movie credible depth.
The problem of the movie is its very deliberate pace. While it is important to develop a story, Akin takes entirely too much time developing and not enough time entertaining. It is hard to believe that this movie is only 106 minutes long yet in watching the film it is hard to determine what could have been removed to shorten the feel of the movie.
Rated R for violence, language and some nudity, In The Fade, the German entry for the Academy Award, is a tough, gritty and grounded look at the German legal system and the lengths a woman will go to achieve justice. The composition of the movie will make it hard for the casual American viewer to watch. The pacing makes it hard for everyone. However, if you can hang in there, the end of the movie is dynamic.