In the Fade features a powerful portrayal from Diane Kruger, of the devastating damage caused by terrorists to those left behind.
In the Fade begins with a brief wedding scene shot on a shaky camera phone between a Kurdish prisoner and a tattooed, bottle dyed blonde. Cut to the present day Hamburg and the re-united couple, Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) and Nuri (Numan Acar), now have a 6-year-old son, Rocco. We are properly introduced to our protagonist, Katja, as she leaves Rocco in the care of Nuri at his office and takes their car to spend a spa day with pregnant friend, Brigit (Samia Chancrin). She returns to find the road barricaded by police and discovers that her husband’s office was the target of a homemade bomb. We are immediately catapulted into the terrifying aftermath and devastation, as the two victims of the explosion are revealed to be her husband and son.
Katja barely has a moment to grieve before she is set upon by detectives, who are eager to determine whether this was an act of terrorism as they search for the motive behind the attack. Over the course of the investigation we learn that Nuri was a reformed drug-dealer, who, after serving his time in prison, worked as a legal advisor and translator to Turkish & Kurdish communities where his office was located. Katja recalls a brief encounter with a young German woman who had left her bicycle unlocked outside Nuri’s office shortly before the explosion. While Katja believes that the crime was race motivated, pointing to the rise of neo-Nazi supporters, she fights to convince her parents and police who are both quick to leap to the conclusion that Nuri’s conviction and past made him a target.
Sinking deep into despair, Katja pushes away all those around her and seems set on a path of self-destruction, until a lifeline comes in the form of a double arrest for the attack, that includes the German woman she described. Finding new inner strength, Katja rallies and with the support of friend and attorney Danilo (Denis Moschitto), is determined to ensure that the couple arrested are charged with the racially motivated double murder. As both a co-plaintiff and key witness for the prosecution, she is pitted against a nasty defense lawyer, Haberbeck (Johannes Krisch), while she has to endure the painful details of the crime, which unfold over the course of the trial.
Kruger delivers a powerful performance conveying Katja’s fierce inner strength, while at the same time struggling to deal with her devastating loss under such difficult circumstances. The raw emotion that she displays deservedly won her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival and proves her ability as an actress, despite her modeling background.
In the Fade is told solely from Katja’s perspective and is divided into 3 distinct acts. The first being the most powerful and gripping, as we watch Katja overcome with crippling grief and struggling to cope with her loss in the aftermath of the attack. The second depicts the trial with the courtroom drama shot in washed out colours, as a nod to the black-and-white perspective associated with this arena. Sadly it is the third act, which feels implausible and out of place with the rest of the well written and constructed script, depicting Katja as ill-equipped to adapt to her new life after the trial, taking extreme actions in her search for closure.
Director Fatih Akin, who is German of Turkish decent, also wrote the screenplay and was motivated by the rise of xenophobia seen in mainstream politics. While he bases the film on the Nazi race-hate attacks on minorities that took place in Germany between 2000 and 2007, he chooses to focus on the devastating impact felt by the family of victims, rather than the xenophobes themselves. Akin’s film is a powerful portrayal of grief and leaves many questions unanswered, refusing to find a Hollywood type resolution. It won him the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language but failed to make the Oscar nomination shortlist. The uncompromising ending could potentially be to blame, as Dianne Kruger’s performance alone should have earned it recognition.
The film’s title, In the Fade, was taken from a song by Queens of the Stone Age, with their lead singer, Josh Homme responsible for the film’s score. A direct translation of the German title would actually be ‘out of nothingness’, which feels more fitting.
In the Fade is at times an emotionally difficult film to watch, but its relevance in today’s climate of far too frequent terrorist attacks make the viewer’s struggle meaningful.
In 2005 Fatih Akin was a member of the Official Competition Jury at the ‘Cannes International Film Festival’.