In the Fade
Told in three chapters, each with a distinct feel and purpose, Fatih Akin’s In the Fade nearly feels like three different genre-specific short films about grieving widow and mother Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger).
While that approach could easily come off as gimmicky and disjointed in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, the manner with which Akin and co-writer Hark Bohm individually develop and connect their take on the terrorism drama, courtroom procedural and revenge thriller is decidedly smooth.
The set-up and initial grappling with her losses is powerful, though somewhat drags in sitting with her darkness for extended amounts of time. Picking up the slack is the subsequent glimpse at the German legal system, an illuminating stretch and one full of tension and repugnant characters in the form of the defendants, their attorney and a shady witness.
But it’s In the Fade’s final act when Katja takes matters into her own hands and lets her feelings guide her that the film hits its highest heights and makes good on the story’s cumulative effect.
With Katja the center of nearly every shot and action, the narrative puts a lot of pressure on Kruger to deliver — and she comes through time after time. Her complicated performance makes it easy to see why she won Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and justifies the film’s Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Language Film.
Its absence from the Academy Awards, however, is a more confounding mystery than any In the Fade puts forth itself. If anything, it deserves a nomination merely for its gorgeous final shot that drops in Lykke Li’s “I Know Places” at the perfect moment, capping off a moving experience with a soulful coda to bring viewers down from its emotional peaks.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse