Film review: Diane Kruger burns bright in German race revenge drama In The Fade
Slow-burning German-language revenge thriller In The Fade is distinguished by a tour-de-force central performance from Diane Kruger but a muddled resolution leaves Damon Smith with more questions than answers
A MOTHER'S courage is warped by grief and righteous indignation in writer-director Fatih Akin's award-winning drama, which marries on-screen inner turmoil with a powerful score composed by Queens Of The Stone Age front man Josh Homme.
Bookmarked into three emotionally wrought chapters entitled Family, Justice and The Sea, In The Fade is a slow-burning German-language thriller of shifting moral certainties, which is distinguished by a tour-de-force central performance from Diane Kruger.
Her fearless portrayal of an avenging angel, who vows to dole out the justice denied to her loved ones by the courts, scorches every frame of Akin's picture as she careens at high speed towards a precipice of self-destruction.
Kruger rips out her anguished mother's heart as she ricochets between guilt, rage and incomprehension, numbing the pain with drugs scored from her lawyer before she emerges from a suicidal fug to pursue her violent vendetta.
Courtroom scenes shimmer with suspense and there are some deliciously tense exchanges between legal counsels but once the verdict is delivered, tension dissipates and Akin relies increasingly on his luminous leading lady to energise a pedestrian final act that tests both our patience and sympathy.
Kurdish drug dealer Nuri Sekerci (Numan Akar) marries sweetheart Katja (Kruger) while he is behind bars.
Upon his release, the jailbird agrees to atone for his sins so they can raise a family.
True to his word, Nuri studies business so he can open an office in Hamburg while Katja dotes on their cherubic five-year-old son, Rocco (Rafael Santana).
Late one evening, Katja returns to her husband's office to collect their boy and she is greeted by police cordons and flashing blue lights.
A nail bomb has been detonated in the street and police sombrely confirm that Nuri and Rocco were killed in the blast.
Authorities initially focus on Nuri's inglorious past and speculate that he might have been trafficking drugs again and targeted by embittered rivals.
Meanwhile, Katja collapses under the weight of her grief, seeking consolation in the arms of good friend Birgit (Samia Chancrin) while her incandescent in-laws add fuel to the fire.
"If you had taken better care, my grandson would still be alive," sneers Nuri's mother.
Eventually, police arrest two members of a far-reaching neo-Nazi network, Andre (Ulrich Brandhoff) and Edda Moller (Hanna Hilsdorf), and Katja prepares to testify in court while her lawyer Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) locks horns with the defendants' slippery legal representative (Johannes Krisch).
In The Fade is a showcase for Kruger and she doesn't disappoint, holding firm to her character's volatile convictions.
Supporting performances have little room to breathe, not least the two defendants who are sketched in disappointingly broad strokes.
A muddled resolution, which shifts the action to Greece and proposes to quench Katja's thirst for revenge, begs more nagging, uncomfortable questions than it answers.
IN THE FADE (18, 106 mins) Thriller/Romance. Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Akar, Johannes Krisch, Samia Chancrin, Ulrich Brandhoff, Hanna Hilsdorf, Rafael Santana. Director: Fatih Akin
Released: June 22 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas, and available to stream exclusively on www.curzonhomecinema.com)