Film Review – In The Fade (2017)

You’re presented with the impossible situation: something horrible has happened, you don’t know how or why but it has led to you losing something most precious in your world. Yet, for one reason or another, those responsible have yet to be brought to justice, perhaps never. Some can take life no more or they take matters into their own hands and fight back, whether rightly or wrongly. And in such narratives we find ourselves asking the same question: what would you do?

For Katja (Diane Kruger) she has had such a scenario presented to her in the most horrific and tragic circumstances you could ever imagine. The day begins as any other for her and her family, dropping off her son Rocco (Rafael Santana) at husband Nuri’s (Numan Acar) office, she heads to run some errands in town. It’s on her return, however, that her life is changed forever: Rocco and Nuri have died in what looks to be an accident from the early reports but with her husband’s history with drugs and incarceration, policy suspects foul play and that he was targeted. Desperate for answers, Katja starts to take it upon herself to bring those responsible to pay for their crimes.

It’s a familiar vigilante set-up that we’ve seen in various different forms, whether in Death Wish, Harry Brown, Kill Bill or indeed Batman, but what sets director Fatih Akin‘s film apart from the others is the change of point of view to the mother’s perspective, to the maternal and how such events snap in two such a strong and divine bond as mother and child, and by extension wife and husband. By doing so, In The Fade feels fresher and more relevant than any of the other pretenders to the crown in recent times, fused with both darkness and hope.

Indeed, the film delves deep into the social and political unrest sweeping through the world at present and highlights both the terrors that lie amongst us and how such unease and unassured surroundings have changed the world forever. They’re some difficult subjects to bring to the fore but Akin handles proceedings beautiful and shines a much-needed spotlight on the need for change.

Kruger, meanwhile, has never been better – a fireball of raw emotion and true heartbreak, and it’s no surprise that she walked away with the Best Actress gong at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. What is shocking is how that win didn’t lead her to more glory – she and the film were overlooked at the Oscars and her omission is puzzling. Then again, such has been the quality of female performances (in front of and behind the camera) in the last year that whittling the list down to five is a tough ask.

While the narrative is hardly original, Akin has taken such tropes of the sub-genre and turned them into both a cracking thriller and a heartbreaking drama about life and loss with a stunning central turn from Diane Kruger. Easily one of the year’s very best.

Scott J.Davis

Crime, Drama | Germany, 2017 | 18 | 22nd June 2018 (UK) | Curzon Artificial Eye | Dir.Fatih Akin | Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar, Ulrich Tukur, Johannes Krisch, Rafael Santana

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