In the Fade

 

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A three-act tragedy that ends up by becoming something of a tragedy for the wrong reasons.

   In the Fade

Diane Kruger

 

Of Turkish descent but born in Hamburg, the writer/director Fatih Akin gave us a memorable film in 2007's The Edge of Heaven. Since then he has kept busy, but several of his works have failed to reach us and one has the impression that he is finding it difficult to maintain the standard of his best pieces. Indeed, his new offering In the Fade begins badly with a tiresome scene shot in 'Scope utilising a distracting handheld camera. Once over that, however, In the Fade takes hold and we are soon engrossed in what will be a three-part drama. At its centre is a German woman, Katja (Diane Kruger), living happily in Hamburg with her Kurdish husband, Nuri, a reformed drug dealer (Numan Acar) and their young son (Rafael Santana). The portrayal of this contented family convinces, but tragedy soon strikes when Katja discovers that both her husband and child have been killed by a nail bomb planted outside Nuri's office.

 

Initially Nuri's past encourages the police to believe that the attack was related to drug dealing, a fact that adds to Katja's agony, but then information supplied to the police leads to the arrest of a married couple and it becomes clear that the raison d'ĂȘtre had been hostility to foreigners on the part of Neo-Nazis. The film's second part, 'Justice', is an effective court drama as Katja's lawyer (Denis Moschitto) seeks to counter the moves of the defence lawyer (Johannes Krisch) who produces a witness whose testimony gives the accused an alibi. If such court scenes are relatively familiar fare, in this case Diane Kruger's strong performance, persuasive in its emotional depth, ensures that In the Fade nevertheless comes across compellingly.

 

However, the trial scenes yield to a third section set in Greece and this disappoints twice over, even though Kruger remains central and does all she can with it. Here the storyline descends into decidedly far-fetched territory. Earlier one had assumed that Akin would use the genre of the courtroom drama to lead into some relevant statement comparable to the moral concerns expressed in The Edge of Heaven, a possibility the more likely because of the film's refusal to shirk the detailed evidence about the exact nature of the child's death. Instead, despite statistics quoted at the end to put actual Neo-Nazi atrocities in Germany into focus, In the Fade turns into a revenge saga sufficiently implausible to leave us with the feeling that, whatever his intentions, Akin's film has ended up looking like a rather cheap melodrama that has taken advantage of real-life tragedies. Even so, for two-thirds of its length it works very well indeed. Ulrich Tukur as another witness provides strong support and the Cannes prize for Diane Kruger as best actress is by no means out of line. There is much to like here, but quite a lot eventually to regret.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Johannes Krisch, Samia Muriel Chancrin, Numan Acar, Rafael Santana, Ulrich Tukur, Adam Bousdoukos, Ulrich Brandhoff, Hanna Hilsdorf, Yannis Economides.

 

Dir Fatih Akin, Pro Nurhan Sekerci-Porst, Fatih Akin, Herman Weigel and Ann-Kristin Hormann, Screenplay Fatih Akin and Hark Bohm, Ph Rainer Klsausmann, Pro Des Tamo Kunz, Ed Andrew Bird, Music Joshua Homme, Costumes Katrin Aschendorf.

  
Bombero International/Warner Bros. Film Productions Germany/Macassar Productions/Pathé/Dorje Film-Curzon Artificial Eye.
106 mins. Germany/France/Italy. 2017. Rel: 22 June 2018. Cert. 18.