The case against Klaus Bar­bie’s lawyer

Ger­ald Aaron re­views the latest re­leases, in­clud­ing a doc­u­men­tary on the man who de­fends ter­ror­ists and Nazis

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS & BOOKS -



THE SUB­JECT of Bar­bet Schroeder’s un­set­tling film is a cin­ema sta­ple — the smug, lime­light-seek­ing “star” lawyer. What makes Ter­ror’s Ad­vo­cate so chill­ing is that its “star” — French lawyer Jac­ques Vergès — is a real-life at­tor­ney no­to­ri­ous for his in­fa­mous clients.

Vergès came to promi­nence dur­ing the 1960s Al­ge­rian war when he de­fended — and later mar­ried — cafe bomber Djamila Bouhired. He went on to de­fend ter­ror­ists of ev­ery type, in­clud­ing Car­los the Jackel, but is best known for act­ing for Nazi war crim­i­nal Klaus Bar­bie.

Schroeder’s vividly lays out the ev­i­dence in the form of pow­er­ful news footage and in­ter­views with­out di­dac­ti­sism, al­low­ing au­di­ences to make up their own minds about Vergès.



IT IS nec­es­sary to con­cen­trate to fol­low Ni­co­las Klotz’s in­trigu­ing drama since the di­rec­tor slowly builds his com­plex story with­out re­sort­ing to cliché. But the ef­fort is worth it. This is a riv­et­ing nar­ra­tive which, scripted from Fran­cois Emmanuel’s book, La Ques­tion Hu­maine, draws par­al­lels be­tween the profit-driven in­hu­man­i­ties of con­tem­po­rary cor­po­rate life and the bru­tal­i­ties of the Holo­caust.

Hu­man re­sources psy­chol­o­gist Si­mon Kessler (Mathieu Al­maric) works in the French head­quar­ters of a Ger­man multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion and has spent seven years se­lect­ing new em­ploy­ees and “down­siz­ing” su­per­flu­ous ex­ec­u­tives. He is cho­sen by man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Karl Rose (Jean-Pierre Kal­fon) to re­port on the men­tal state of CEO Mathias Jüst (Michael Lons­dale), an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that trau­mat­i­cally re­veals to Si­mon that the com­pany for which he works once sup­plied equip­ment for the ex­ter­mi­na­tion of Jews to the Nazis. Al­maric gives a pow­er­ful, mul­ti­lay­ered per­for­mance, vet­eran Lons­dale is su­perb too in a dis­qui­et­ing but ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing ex­am­i­na­tion of un­speak­able as­pects of hu­man be­hav­iour.



AN EN­TER­TAIN­ING vari­a­tion on the teenage com­ing-of-age movie. Sev­en­teen-year-old rich kid Char­lie Bartlett (An­ton Yelchin) achieves his dream of pop­u­lar­ity by deal­ing out pre­scrip­tion drugs to his school­mates. Since he is not ob­vi­ously an ad­mirable char­ac­ter, it is to Yelchin’s credit, al­lied with Jon Poll’s deft di­rec­tion, that Char­lie emerges as em­i­nently like­able.

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