Middleburg Film Review: ‘In the Fade’ Presents a Raw and Brilliant Diane Kruger

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2017 MIDDLEBURG FILM FESTIVAL: Fatih Akin‘s sensational and gripping drama “In the Fade” is one of the year’s most surprising endeavors.  It sneaks up on you as it maneuvers through three utterly heart rendering chapters, all dealing with loss, grief, and revenge.  The film’s simplistic case file, which seems to teeter on something you would see on “Unsolved Mysteries,” is all forgivable when its helmed by a damn near flawless performance by Diane Kruger.  Akin’s visual sensations are also well executed as he explores many themes as he was channeling J.C. Chandor.

“In the Fade,” tells the story of Katja (Kruger) whose life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. Dealing with the loss and then eventual hunt for justice, Katja battles her own thirst for revenge.

The film takes no prisoners and pulls no punches, as it sears through the life of a woman who has lost everything.  What works first and foremost is Diane Kruger‘s career-defining performance.  Her fierce, uncompromising turn is remarkably potent as she endures and displays every anguish and mournful beat.  She’s never been so exposed or vulnerable as she sinks deeper and deeper with each frame.  Akin’s dark and dreary atmosphere seems to weirdly color Kruger’s interpretation, leading to an unguarded and lucent turn.

Akin’s film manages to run through the gamut of different cinematic genres as a grief story, quickly transforming into a courtroom drama before landing on a revenge tale. While the traveling is seamless, as a whole it comes up just a tad short of brilliance.  Most impressive is cinematographer Rainer Klausmann (“Downfall”), who is unafraid to explore the darkness and seclusion of a broken woman.  He settles into moments, allowing long takes to become an insufferable amount of suspense before unleashing fury and graphic flashes.

Atkin takes us to intoxicating places of grief.  This is no easy sit.  It’s uniquely gripping as you are hooked to the film’s central character, not daring to look away cause of fear of missing something prudent.  You are witnessing the disintegration of a woman, perhaps even autopsy would be more apt.  The film is harrowingly difficult, even almost getting tears out of you in the film’s first quarter.  You’d be remiss to find something more raw this fall season.

Kruger isn’t alone as her co-star Denis Moschitto, who seems to channel Shia LeBeouf, sprinkles charisma and passion into his lawyer role.  Hanna Hilsdorf and Ulrich Brandhoff do plenty with so little as they’re eyes launch them into our minds.

In the Fade” is a taut thriller.  Kruger’s enigmatic and chilling work is worth every dime that will be spent on a movie ticket.  She bears it all as her brave and engaging portrayal very well may be one of the year’s best works by any actor. Period.

“In the Fade” is screening at the Middleburg Film Festival, is distributed by Magnolia Pictures, and is GERMANY’s submission for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film.

GRADE: (★½)

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