Last time out director Hans-Christian Schmid directed the psychological horror Requiem based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a young Catholic epileptic sufferer who believed that she was possessed by demons. Schmid has a long record of making fictional films loosely based on real life events and the German’s latest has remarkable echoes to the trial of Serb Radovan Karadzic, currently taking place at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Karadzic is not named in this courtroom drama, but there is not much done to hide who this film is really about as a Serb commander Gorna Duric (Drazen Kuhn) is charged with authorising genocide against Bosnian Muslims. But this is not a film that tries to hang Kardzic, instead Schmid aims his ire at the judicial process and how it can be manipulated. It’s about lawyers, business and politics rather than crimes. Kerry Fox seems to want to channel Cherie Blair (unsuccessfully) as the prosecutor Hannah Maynard who has been handed the case by her former colleague and new boss Keith Haywood. The guilt of the Serbian commander is presumed. This fact only adds to Maynard’s fury as her case starts falling apart when her chief witness (Kresimer Mikic) commits suicide when it’s discovered that his testimony is a sham. Strangely it’s when Maynard heads to Bosnia to build a new case that the films starts loosing focus and goes off the boil. At the funeral Maynard meets the dead man’s sister, Mira (Anamaria Marinca, the star of Cannes winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) and it soon becomes clear that Mira should be put on the stand. The witness with persuasive evidence is the cliché of American court room dramas so it’s a good ruse by Schmid to turn this on it’s head, making the witness feel like it’s her that’s being put on trial. Yet to get to the point that this may just be a show trial, there is too much exposition and Maynard’s idealism never sits well with the depiction of her as a weary cynical mid-career brief.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 26 Mar.