Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) lives with her 5 year old son Rocco (Rafael Santana), and her Kurdish ex-drug trafficker husband Nuri (Numan Acar), who now runs a translation and taxation office in a Turkish neighbourhood in Hamburg. After a nail bomb is detonated outside the office, Nuri and Rocco are killed, and Katja’s world collapses. As the investigation probes into Nuri and Katja’s personal lives and criminal pasts, Katja is determined to maintain her husband’s innocence, and find his murderer. In The Fade, by Fatih Akin, is a crime drama thriller that follows the resulting court case, Katja’s grief, and her determination for justice and revenge.
The film is inspired by the xenophobic murders and bombings carried out by the German terrorist group National Socialist Underground between 2000 and 2007. The imagery in the film is a little too real, too potentially close to home, and the audience cannot help but empathise with Katja’s anger and frustration. This, combined with intensely violent imagery and sentimental home video footage, make for an incredibly powerful film that remains strong from start to finish.
The court case takes up a good portion of the film, and is easy to follow, not allowing technical jargon to sully the raw emotion on display in the aftermath of terror. But this all comes down to the powerful performances by Kruger and Denis Moschitto, who plays Katja’s lawyer. Kruger’s grief is so real and gut-wrenching, it is easy to see why the film has won many awards, including Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Golden Globes and Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. She carries the film, giving life to the occasionally routine dialogue.
The film toys with your expectations, keeps you on the edge of your seat with frustration, clinging to the hope that justice will be served. The use of the universal villains, the Neo-Nazis, means the antagonists are very easy to hate, and adds to the audience’s emotional investment in Katja’s vengeance and triumph. There are moments of haunting beauty, in which the film meditates on the sorrow that festers, unresolved, after tragic events such as this.
In The Fade humanises a complex contemporary socio-political issue by evoking complex emotions and raising moral questions. Although the trailer for this film makes it appear to be action-heavy throughout, the film picks up two-thirds in, after a moment of anti-resolution. However, up until this point, the film is still tense and stirring, suspenseful in its anxious expectation. Despite being inspired by real events, the ending is rather theatrical. In The Fade is chillingly powerful and grimly satisfying.
I rate this film 8.5/10.
In The Fade (Aus dem Nichts) is screening from March 8th at Luna Leederville and Luna Outdoor.