In the Fade could be called a revenge thriller, but if that conjures an image of a titillating action movie, it couldn’t be more misleading. Fatih Akin’s film is a quiet but unrelenting tragedy, led by a breath-taking Diane Kruger as Katja, a wife and mother faced with unbearable loss after her husband and son are murdered in a neo-Nazi attack.
Inspired by the contemporary resurgence of right-wing extremism, the story’s strengths lie in its simplicity and its foundation in character. This isn’t a Kill Bill-esque wild ride, nor is there sadistic sweetness to be found in unleashing one’s inner demons in the face of tragedy. There’s no pettiness in Katja, only the deeply human twists and turns of emotion which epitomise profound grief. Kruger plays the developments of her pain and anger with a startling breadth of tone.
The film is mostly shot with a handheld camera, forging intimate scenes as the lens pans over the ongoing action. It’s immersive yet voyeuristic. We are always intruding, bearing witness to the most private of suffering. It’s not an easy watch, but Akin does not torture the audience, rarely allowing the discomfort to intensify enough to distract from the events on screen.
Still, it’s a hauntingly bleak film, which traps us in Katja’s distraught mind. Amid such intense emotion, normality has no further relevance, fading into the background as her world narrows to focus on those responsible for her pain. This heightened subjectivity does cause some obfuscation – the film’s distorted passage of time risks being unsatisfying.
In the Fade could easily be a predictable, unsatisfying revenge story, but its mature and delicate exploration of human emotion makes it a moving watch, and it avoids the trap of excessive sentimentality or violence in its portrayal of a survivor yearning for justice.
CAST: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar, Samia Muriel Chancrin
DIRECTOR: Fatih Akin
WRITERS: Fatih Akin (written for screen by), Hark Bohm (author)
SYNOPSIS: Katja’s life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.
We greatly appreciate that a preview screening to this film was provided by Curzon.