In the Fade is a heart wrenching film that follows the story of a woman whose son and husband are killed in a targeted bombing. The film’s narrative is not particularly innovative, but it is well executed and succeeds in keeping the viewer invested in the plight of the protagonist throughout.
The film concerns itself with social issues such as society’s view of rehabilitation and drugs, but is built around the main theme of race relations and far-right politics. The main character, Katja, portrayed by Diane Kruger, is married to a rehabilitated Turkish drug dealer who now owns a business in Hamburg. Katja (Kruger) leaves their son Rocco with her husband at his office as she goes out for the day with a friend. When she returns to meet her family she discovers that a bomb has gone off outside her husband’s office and has killed her family. Katja believes it was Nazis that carried out the attack on account of her husband’s ethnicity, a suspicion that is quickly confirmed. The film follows Katja as she comes to terms with her loss, and seeks justice for the murder of her family.
Diane Kruger’s portrayal of grieving Katja is fantastic, creating real empathy for the character during scenes of confusion, loss and anger. The director retains a sense of the character’s humanity by presenting her flaws as she relies on drugs to help her through the pain of losing her family.
Split into three distinct – but by no means disconnected – Acts, the direction is effective in keeping the film feeling fresh, but never allowing the viewer to feel out of touch with the main character or plotline. The middle act mostly takes place in a courtroom, and the cinematography is more rigid, adding to the formal and heartless process which the protagonist must sit through during a very emotional and fragile period of her life. In contrast, the opening and closing acts are more turbulent and uncertain, reflected well through the music and cinematography without either element feeling over imposing.
The tone of the film overall invokes great emotion, but it is never a difficult watch. Although there are hard hitting scenes, such as in the courtroom where Katja sits through a very bloody and matter of fact description of the horrific injuries her child endured, you will always want to stay with the character, and by the end of the film, you really are hoping for justice to come to the perpetrators.
The final act is a revenge chapter, with a tonal shift from grievance to anger. There are a few edge of your seat moments as Katja devises a plan to avenge her family.
In the Fade is an engaging film. It has a moving and intriguing storyline, with a protagonist that the audience can empathise with to a great extent. The message behind the film is important and relevant for the present day as it deals with xenophobia and far-right politics, and the very real pain that can be felt by families and communities as a result of extreme views. However, it fails to give the viewer a reason to watch it again, with a lack of mystery in the plotline and little stylistic features. Overall, In the Fade achieves what it sets out to achieve yet lacks a premise that keeps you coming back for more.
In the Fade is screening at Glasgow Film Theatre between the 22nd of June – 28th of June. Anyone aged between 15 and 25 can get a free card from GFT that entitles them to £5.50 tickets to any standard screening.
By Jack Coleman