In the Fade

Feb 24, 2018

A fascinating triple threat: grief, justice, and revenge.

In the Fade

Grade: A-

Director:  Fatih Akin (Soul Kitchen)

Screenplay:  Akin, from author Numan Acar

Cast: Diane Kruger (Unknown), Denis Moschitto (Closed Circuit)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 46 min

by John DeSando

Justice, German style, looks a lot like the US’s: Innocent until proven guilty and beyond the shadow of a doubt. As in Killing of the Sacred Deer, about a boy who terrorizes a surgeon and his family because of a bungled operation that left the boy’s father dead, so too in In the Fade, a young mother, Katja (a superb Diane Kruger), is left to her own devices to bring justice and revenge on the neo-Nazi couple who murdered her husband and young son.

Although this German film is timely with Germany’s challenges about immigration and its dislike for Turkish  involvement in its business, it is more about the despair of anyone who has lost a relative to violence (consider the number of school-shooting relatives today in the US) and the overwhelming urge for justice and its often co-conspirator, revenge.

The first third of In the Fade is about Katja’s grief, as palpable as the unbending love of her family, and for me overdone because the heart of this thriller is the second part, the courtroom drama. The defense attorney for the couple is imposing German, Haberbeck (Johannes Krisch), whose cynical mien and bright arguing lets us know ahead of time that bringing justice to this guilty couple will be hard fought.

As in any effective drama about guilt and innocence, writer-director Fatih Akin balances our expectations for a Hollywood conclusion against the cunning of the defense and the Nazi presence. The director expertly keeps the audience guessing even as it anticipates the truth and justice will prevail on part 3.

This Golden Globe and Broadcast Journalism Society winner for best foreign language film is a deft piece of argument, suspense, and thriller. I just wonder if it didn’t make the Oscar cut because the compromise ending is too Hollywood and not enough European. I’ll never know.

Nor does the investigating officer know about the victim father: “Was he Muslim? Was he politically active?” Murder has complications. So do justice and revenge.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at