To paraphrase James Baldwin, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the woman who has nothing to lose.” “In the Fade” (“Aus dem Nichts”), the new thriller from German director Fatih Akin, brings this truism to life.
When we first meet Katja (Diane Kruger in her first German language film) she has a normal life. Living in Germany, married to Turkish immigrant accountant Nuri (Numan Acar), she has a young son named Rocco and a large extended family. Her well ordered life is disrupted, forever changed, when Nuri and Rocco are killed in a Neo-Nazi nail bomb attack. Her life in shards she attempts suicide, endures a drawn out court trial—“Imagine if they had gotten me and Rocco and Nuri had lived. He wouldn’t have stood for all this chit chat,” she says of the court case.—and finally, a showdown between her and the people responsible for tearing her life apart.
“In the Fade’s” story of terrorism and violence against immigrants is a timely one. Footage like the bombed out storefront where Nuri did business have become commonplace on the nightly news. What is less commonplace, on the news anyway, is the revenge aspect. Her need for vengeance, no matter the cost, drives the final third of the film.
Broken into three distinct segments, “The Family,” “Justice” and “The Sea,” the film almost feels like three separate shorts bound together by one character. Kruger is the glue that makes the movie as compelling as it is. A churning vessel of rage, hurt and despair, she is a very human presence at the centre of a bleak story.
“In the Fade” closes with a title card detailing the violence against immigrants in Germany each year. It is a powerful statement made in a movie that drives the point home by honing the horror of widespread violence down to one, very personal story.