In the Fade review Diane KrugerYear: 2017
Director(s): Fatih Akin
Writer(s): Fatih Akin, Hark Bohm
Region of Origin: France, Germany

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 106 mins

Synopsis: Katja’s life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge. (Source)

We go in to most films with the intention of giving two hours of our lives before inevitably moving on. In the Fade is not a film we can move on from so easily. Transforming from devastating tragedy to courtroom drama and then paranoid thriller, Fatih Akin’s film doesn’t end once the credits roll. It sticks with us as a meditative rumination on the nature of violence, hate, retribution and the locked cycle of destruction that’s defined us as a species. Things feel by-the-numbers at times, but only before we realize what Akin is really trying to do, exploring the implications of his story rather than just its plot points. Suddenly, we’ve been taken ahold of, and the film’s explosive final moments ring out indefinitely. With smart restraint and a story that doesn’t reduce its neo-Nazis to generic villains, Akin’s film wields raw power – and Diane Kruger’s show-stopping performance is something to behold.

Katja (Diane Kruger), her husband Nuri (Numan Acar) and their 5-year-old son Rocco (Rafael Santana) live in Hamburg, Germany. Nuri and Katja have already beat the odds with their marriage, leaving behind spotty pasts for a fresh start. Then one day, Nuri and Rocco are killed in a senseless nail bomb attack. As Katja’s life begins to crumble, it becomes apparent that a neo-Nazi couple might’ve been responsible for the attack, and Nuri’s Kurdish background a possible motivation. With the help of family friend acting as legal council, Katja is drawn into a harrowing legal battle, one in which those responsible may only be the tip of the iceberg. As the case drags on, the court’s definition of justice begins to diverge with Katja’s, leading her down a dark path which threatens to drive her further into isolation and ruin.

Fade works because of its unclouded simplicity. For a majority of the film, the plot is very matter-of-fact, splicing a devastating portrait of anguish with riveting courtroom theatrics. Building upon a straightforward, but affecting procedural structure, Akin uses this transparency to his advantage. As things escalate, threads are paid off as the story begins to subtly shift from what we’d expect. Soon enough, we realize the crux is not just how Katja’s fate becomes intertwined with her aggressors, but the broader, lasting effects of victim and terrorist – what their actions set into motion not just on an intimate level, but for us as a society. Throughout the entire thing, Akin’s film is nothing less than immersive, putting us into Katja’s shoes and making us feel her sorrow and helplessness. In fitting form, Akin doesn’t tie things off with a nice bow, but leaves us in an emotional stasis that overflows with complexity.

In the Fade review Diane KrugerThough the film is lined with a cast that leaves no facet of its subject matter unturned, it’s Diane Kruger’s moving portrait of Katja that rises above it all. When we first meet Katja, she’s fully formed and at a moment in her life that feels fulfilled. As quickly as her life is overturned, however, Kruger flips a switch and delivers a woman gasping for air. Still, despite her devastation, Kruger’s Katja doesn’t feel like a victim for too long, slowly composing herself into a woman channeling her grief into something just as terrifying. That the story doesn’t go where we think it will is also a testament to the shades of nuance that Kruger brings to the role, commanding the screen with every silent breath and a hypnotic stare that we can’t break contact with.

Especially in times like now, In the Fade is an important story, shining a light on the effects of hate and violence in ways that hit close to home. Akin and star Kruger share a perfect synergy, breathing life into a story that never feels less than real, and always uncompromising with its punches. This film takes our breath away like very few can, and by the end of it, we’re forced to react.