In the Fade (4 stars)

In the Fade

Diane Kruger excels in a devastating and essential drama that shines a spotlight on far-right terrorism

Shining a spotlight on the under-acknowledged threat of far-right terrorism, this devastating drama from German director Fatih Akin (Head-On, The Edge of Heaven) sees a woman felled by unimaginable loss summoning the strength to survive an aftermath that continues to inflict trauma.

When her Kurdish husband Nuri (Numan Acar) and young son Rocco (Rafael Santana) are killed in a nail bomb attack in Hamburg, the anguish felt by Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) is amplified by a police investigation which insistently focuses on Nuri's criminal past. Yet he's a reformed character – a family man and business owner committed to serving his local community. Katja's suspicion that the incident was racially motivated is ultimately borne out by the arrest of a neo-Nazi couple (Ulrich Brandhoff and Hanna Hilsdorf), forcing her to pull herself back from the brink.

As Katja moves through her initial grief to the agony of the trial and beyond, the film adapts itself accordingly. While her suffering is captured with subtlety and sensitivity, Akin and co-writer Hark Bohm lay out the machinations and manipulations of the legal system in stark, excruciating detail when Katja faces the perpetrators and particulars of the hideous crime.

The winner of Best Actress at Cannes 2017, Kruger tackles her meatiest role yet. Her devoted stay-at-home mum is a punky former drug-user who has lapsed back in her grief; during the trial she finds herself under scrutiny, as In the Fade highlights how poorly the law can serve those who don't present as stereotypical victims. Katja's ability to withstand cruel twists of fortune and callous questioning lends her character considerable nobility.

The film's closing credits list an eight-year campaign of racist violence by the National Socialist Underground, giving the fictional story real-world weight, while Kruger's outstanding work as Katja – by turns bewildered, determined, despairing and haunted – ensures it cuts deep. In the Fade is an unashamedly brutal but equivalently compassionate portrait of all she must endure.

General release from Fri 22 Jun.

In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts)

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • Germany / France
  • 1h 46min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Fatih Akin
  • Cast: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar
  • UK release: 22 June 2018

When Katja (Kruger)’s husband (Acar) and young son (Santana) are killed in a nail bomb attack, she is further traumatised by a police investigation which focuses on his criminal past rather than the evidence that it was racially motivated. Kruger won Best Actress at Cannes for her outstanding work as Katja.