An arresting prologue shows Katja and Nuri marrying while he’s still in prison. But the story kicks in a few years later when’s he running a small business – outside of which a nail bomb explodes, sending Katja’s life into freefall. That happens in the first of the film’s three chapters, and Akin’s portrait of the immediate aftermath of the tragedy is strong as he films Katja in the shadows of her family home, broken and suffering. He’s also good on the prejudices and assumptions that emerge from various parties (including from Nuri and Katja’s respective parents) because of their intercultural marriage and his criminal past.
In the Fade(2017) imagines a young modern-day German woman, Katja (Kruger), dealing with the fallout from a Hamburg bomb attack that kills her Turkish husband, Nuri (Numan Acar), and their young son. Solidly told by German writer-director Fatih Akin (‘Head-On’, ‘The Cut’), it displays decent if unexceptional TV-movie chops until a pile-up of plot holes and wild story twists take it somewhere so crude that you’d be forgiven for finding it offensive.
Two further chapters in In the Fade(2017) lead us through a subsequent courtroom trial, which allows Akin to highlight the rise of far-right terror in modern Germany. The trial is compelling enough, even if this section is light on proper scrutiny, and then we’re off to Greece for a final episode of revenge (involving that country’s far-right Golden Dawn party) which is extremely hard to swallow and borderline vacuous. Akin’s style is unflashy realism, which only throws a spotlight on the film’s pile-up of unconvincing, didactic story turns. Starting in a place of in-the-moment realism, this increasingly plays out as wish-fulfilment and finally leaves reality behind entirely.
But, this departure-from-reality ‘device’ works, in an abstract way… it tells us the viewer that life has many twists and turns that can throw a situation that you think you can control….. into a melee of wrongness OR opportunity. The vivid cinematography, shoulder-mounted camera jigging, makes for a pacy, if at times uneven, thriller; but therein lies the cinema-of-the-unpredictable. And Jason Bourne’s various European adventures have shown us, the viewer, ‘where’ such unpredictability can take us.