In the Fade
Three chapters: “The Family”, “Justice” and “The Sea”. Explanatory in title, yet hosting very different incentives in their contents, this trio of parts combine to tell the story of director Fatih Akin’s latest cinematic endeavour, In the Fade, a picture that explores themes of complete loss, racial prejudice and the different stages of grief whilst also concocting a ruthless mission for peace and reconciliation through the minefield that is the justice system. Sound like your cup of tea, or simply something you have tasted before? Well, whatever your sauce, this German picture will certainly provide some fierce accompaniment in the form of an emotional treat that carries far more ingredients than basic morality.
In what initially appears to be a display of perfect family life, Katja (Diane Kruger), is living the reality she always dreamed of with her hardworking, reformed ex-drug trafficking husband Nuri (Numan Acar) and son Rocco (Rafael Santana). But this idyllic milieu does not last long as Katja’s life falls apart in the blink of an eye after a neo-Nazi bomb attack scratches the loved ones out of her life. In a search for vengeance and justice, the protagonist must summon the strongest fragments of her broken spirit as the murder enquiry goes to trial, holding on to the untarnished memories she cherishes so dearly, whilst battling a flawed legal system riddled with complications.
Akin opens the movie with home footage of Katja and Nuri’s wedding – an event that occurred whilst the latter was serving time in jail for drug-dealing – and continues to present this element at the beginning of each chapter to build an instant relatability and connection between the characters and the audience. Why the director felt the need to actually create clear, physical divisions between each act is certainly a question to be raised, as although it does appear to be a more common trend in modern foreign films, sometimes this component can be unnecessary, should the narrative be powerful enough. In this instance, the screenplay wins thanks to a superbly powerful and explosive performance from Kruger, a protagonist not only worth rooting for, but – with grief worn so painfully into her every glance – one worth crying for. Embodying a character who experiences both the joy of a complete family and the pain of complete loss, Kruger’s emotional and disturbing portrayal of a woman whose life is slowly deconstructing around her left no eyebrows raised when winning her the award for Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
Alongside a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Johannes Kirsch and Denis Moschitto –whose fiery exchanges as counterparts lit up dreary courtroom scenes – Akin presents sharp contrasts in mood and ambience through the use of environmental changes, dowsing the set and heroine with an ongoing downpour of rain once she enters her darkest days, and substituting a joyous, toe-tapping soundtrack with deeper orchestral tones. As a whole, the film stands on strong foundations and but for a few minor plot and motive quibbles, manages to just about avoid falling into the clichés of the devastated mother seeking a bloody revenge. This may, however, be entirely down to the fabulous performance and presence of Kruger.
In the Fade is released in select cinemas on 22nd June 2018.
Watch the trailer for In the Fade here: