Friday 14 February 2020

Movie Review: In The Fade (2017)

A hard-hitting and rain-soaked justice and revenge drama, In The Fade examines the impact of a terrorist atrocity on one woman who loses everything.

In Hamburg, Germany, Katja Şekerci (Diane Kruger) drops off her son Rocco at the office of her husband Nuri, located in a Kurdish neighbourhood. A bomb planted in a bicycle subsequent kills both Nuri and Rocco, destroying Katja's life and pushing her into drug use and suicidal depression. The police investigation focuses on Nuri's chequered past: he served prison time for drug dealing, and suspicions linger he was back involved in criminal activity.

But Katja, who spotted the woman who parked the bike, believes the bomb was planted by anti-immigrant neo-Nazi terrorists. She is eventually proven right when couple Edda and André Möller are arrested. Katja and her attorney Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) will have to endure a difficult trial in the quest for justice.

The impact of anti-immigration extremist acts is the subject of In The Fade, and while the quest for justice theme is familiar, writer and director Fatih Akin aims his punches straight at the gut. The film is uncompromising in presenting the physical and emotional devastation caused by a terrorist bombing, and in a crisp 106 minutes brings the victims and survivors, often perceived as numeric statistics, to the centre of the story.

Here Katja cannot even see the remains of husband Nuri and son Rocco: there are none, the two victims reduced to small burnt fragments. And the police investigation initially victimizes her husband again, seeking evidence of criminal activity to test a gangland murder scenario.

Under grey skies and frequent intense rain, Katja resorts to drug use, sinks into a depression and seriously ponders suicide. For her the bomb's shockwave continues long after the initial explosion, amplified by mounting fury and a deep seated desire for personal vengeance.

With Katja in the courtroom, the medical examiner testifies about Rocco's cause-of-death injuries in methodical detail, and her dry monotonal scientific words sear the soul. Meanwhile the neo-Nazi suspects and their smug lawyer need only drill enough holes in the prosecution's case to introduce reasonable doubt, and Akin adopts a less is more approach towards the antagonists. Their calculated coolness and ruthless stares are sufficient to convey the vacuous ignorance and virulent hate at the base of perverted ethnic superiority philosophies.

But the trial will need to deliver some sense of a fair outcome, otherwise Katja's torment, buffeted by nostalgic memories of happier times, will continue. Akin accompanies his central character to the bittersweet end, where longing, revenge and longing for revenge come together in a perfectly imperfect resolution.

Diane Kruger delivers a haunting and career-best performance at the centre of In The Fade. She is raw, fearless and exposed, a woman as emotionally broken as her family is physically destroyed. Long after the headlines, ravaged survivors have to soldier on towards finding their own sense of peace.

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