Actions louder than words in Kruger’s haunting portrait of grief
ELISABETH Kubler Ross identified five stages of grief. Diane Kruger discovers a couple more in this compelling drama, for which she won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
The German-American star (Troy, Inglourious Basterds) digs deep for what is, surprisingly, her first Germanlanguage role as a woman gutted by the murder of her husband and six-year-old son.
While the dialogue is sparing, Kruger’s variously numb, haunted, lost, angry and bitter body language speaks volumes. Acceptance just isn’t part of Katja’s emotional repertoire.
In the film’s opening sequence, the undernourished wild child marries her boyfriend (Numan Acar) — a handsome Turk in a white suit and dishevelled man bun — in a small but euphoric prison ceremony.
The story then flashes forward. An older, more responsible Katja crosses the road with her six-year-old son Rocco (Rafael Santana).
They are on their way to her husband’s office. A “model of rehabilitation”, as his lawyer refers to him, Nuri completed a business degree while in jail.
He is now a selfemployed accountant and translator (often for fellow inmates).
After spending the afternoon with a friend, Katja returns to pick up her family. The entire street is cordoned off. A bomb has exploded outside Nuri’s office. Two charred, dismembered bodies have been recovered. It will take time to confirm it’s her husband and son.
For the next hour-and-ahalf, In The Fade’s writer/ director, Fatih Akin, focuses almost entirely on Katja and her painful struggle to come to terms with what has happened (the occasional flashback via family videos providing some solace — for moviegoers as well as the character).
Her initial faith in the authorities sours when the police start investigating Nuri himself, suspecting an underworld vendetta or terrorist links.
She has all-but given up hope when two neo-Nazis are suddenly arrested for the crime. The court case opens up a whole new world of sorrow.
In the end, Katja comes to the profoundly lonely realisation that no one else can help her resolve her terrible loss.
Part revenge thriller, part police procedural, part meditation on grief, In The Fade sustains the tension throughout.
A good deal of the credit must go to Kruger’s performance, but Akin’s assured direction should not be underestimated. His skill at keeping his audience slightly off balance serves the story well.
As a moviegoer, you are never entirely sure where In The Fade is headed. But when it gets there, the final destination somehow feels right.