Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Aus dem Nichts (5 Stars)

Family. Justice. The Sea.

This is Germany's selection for the Best Foreign Language film in the 2018 Academy Awards. Diane Kruger won the award for Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film festival. The title means "Out of nowhere", but for some inconceivable reason it's called "In the Fade" in English. What's that supposed to mean? It's an emotionally intense film. In the cinema this evening the audience was so silent that you could have heard a pin drop.

Diane Kruger plays Katja, a young German woman who has married Nuri Sekerci, a Kurdish man in Hamburg who owns an office that works supporting immigrants, giving tax and legal advice, translation work and even selling discounted plane tickets to Turkey. One evening a Neo-Nazi couple plants a nail bomb outside the office, killing Nuri and his son.

If I stopped my review there you would think you know what the film's about: Nazis, immigration, racism, politics, etc. You would be wrong. Those subjects, however important they are, are just the background for a psychological drama about the fight for survival of a woman whose whole life has been ripped from under her feet. The film isn't about the victims of the attack, and it only indirectly concerns the perpetrators of the attack. It's all about Katja.

After a shaky beginning, Katja had a perfect life. She met Nuri when he was a drug dealer selling hashish. They fell in love, but before things could progress he was arrested and spent four years in prison. That was the kick that Nuri needed to turn his life around. While in prison he did a degree in Economics, and after being released he went straight. His father gave him the start capital for his business, and he was able to provide a good life for Katja and their six-year-old son Rocco.

Then Nuri and Rocco are killed. Katja survives, but she's the real victim.

A woman in a position like that needs help. But what happens?

Katja's parents blame her for marrying a bad man, a foreigner and an ex-convict.

Nuri's parents blame Katja for their son's death.

The police investigations concentrate on Nuri's criminal past. They don't believe that he could have bought such a large house as a legal adviser for immigrants, so they assume he was selling drugs on the side.

Katja's life spirals out of control. She turns to hard drugs, which she had never used before. She attempts suicide. The only thing that gives her hope is the arrest of the couple who planted the bomb.

But after a long trial there's not enough evidence to convict them.

I enjoy films that portray strong women. I like films that don't show women as weak creatures who have to rely on men to do everything that they need. However, I understand that this can be alienating for women viewers. "That woman on the screen is so confident. She can do everything she wants, but I'm nothing like her". That's the downside of films about strong women. But that's not what we have in this film. Katja is a weak woman. She's someone that the average woman on the street can relate to. A catastrophe comes, and she's knocked flat on her back. That's no shame. What woman wouldn't be emotionally wrecked if her husband and son were murdered? Katja looks to others for help and doesn't get it. She wants to give up. That's still fully understandable. But then, when all seems lost, she pulls herself together and finds strength in herself that she didn't think she had.

I recommend this film to every woman everywhere. Men might like it as well.

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