In the Fade

TIFF Journal: ‘In the Fade’

'In the Fade'

Movie Rating:

3.5

Proving that film festivals are never short of artistically-mounted misery, ‘In the Fade’ arrives in TIFF after a successful and award-winning run at Cannes. Despite the deserved accolades, it’s not exactly a movie and that can or should be described as fun.

A morally ambiguous and gut-wrenchingly intimate examination of grief, loss, racism, addiction, terrorism, and cruelly inhumane systems of law, the film includes just about everything that bums out contemporary viewers, but examines that material with style and passion.

Diane Kruger (‘Inglorious Basterds’) stars in an absolutely remarkable performance as Katja, a young woman who loses her nearest and dearest in a Neo-Nazi terrorist attack. We’re given just enough of a glimpse of her family to appreciate their sincere and fragile beauty as a group. Then it’s all gone in a flash. It soon becomes clear that the murder was racially motivated. Between relapsing bouts of addiction, Katja slowly helps identify the culprits. She takes them to court and, well… to be honest, it’s unfair to discuss much of what happens from there. Suffice to say that it’s all deeply painful, but more importantly, it never quite plays out as you’d expect.

Written and directed by Faith Akin (‘Edge of Heaven’, ‘Goodbye Berlin’), ‘In the Fade’ is a challenging, draining and unpredictable effort. The filmmaker toys with a variety of morally ambiguous and challenging themes from a variety of angles. He has made a film about terrorism where the victims are Turkish and the killers are white. It’s a film about addiction where a relapse isn’t instant destruction, a film about the justice system where all the right moves fall the wrong way. This allows the filmmaker to poignantly explore familiar material from unfamiliar places, challenging viewers right up until the final unsettling frames. If that all sounds vague, it’s only for the sake of keeping the necessary secrets hidden.

There’s a lot going on and it’s all beautifully shot, constructed and crafted for heightened cinematic impact without sacrificing any naturalism from the actors. Kruger is in almost every frame and is stunning throughout, pushing herself to unimaginable emotional extremes and revealing so much while still keeping her fascinating character an unreachable mystery. She deserves the awards she’s won. ‘In the Fade’ is an art house depression factory worth all the misery involved. Although the movie drags at times and often feels like it’s pushing far too many buttons, it’s tough to shake when the credits roll.

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