Alone in Berlin
It is difficult to be inventive when making a film set during World War II, but it seems that many filmmakers are still keen to add their contribution to the long list of movies exploring this moment in history. One of the latest is Vincent Perez’s Alone In Berlin, a story based on the efforts of a real life German couple to resist the system by circulating anti-Nazi material in the capital. Starring Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson in the lead roles, the feature brings to life the quiet tension that permeated every corner of the city at that time.
Otto and Anna lead simple lives and follow Hitler’s regime, mainly for want of other viable options. When they receive news that their only son was killed in battle, they suddenly snap out of their apathy and begin to actively question the government. The reserved and seemingly unemotional Otto channels his anger into a small but dangerous mission. He begins to write messages denouncing Hitler on the back of postcards, and furtively drops them in public places, hoping to instigate a revolt.
Most postcards are immediately turned in to the authorities, leaving the chief police inspector (Daniel Brühl) baffled and frustrated. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues, which also ensures that a certain level of tension is sustained throughout the film. However, the dramatic crescendo is so subtle that the scenes often waddle on the thin line between graceful dignity and monotony.
Luckily, Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson keep the boat afloat with top-rate, elegant performances that somewhat make up for the subdued tone. The story does have powerful messages, especially those concerning the moral questions and sociological aspects of the mass bullying that was taking place. The tight and unforgiving regime led people to extremes and brought out the worst, or the best, in them, but the full potential of these considerations is never reached for by Perez.
Based on a book by Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin is beautifully acted but too gentle in its delivery. The film lacks the energy to truly engage while also failing to offer a fresh enough outlook to justify revisiting such an overused topic.
Alone in Berlin is released nationwide on 30th June 2017.
Watch the trailer for Alone in Berlin here: