Our review of The Collini Affair: When Modern Germany Confronts the Forgotten Ghosts of Its Nazi Past

CRITICISM – Marco Kreuzpaintner signs a solid and effective legal thriller and offers Franco Nero, Corbucci’s eternal “Django”, a role worthy of him.

An old man from the back walks down the dark hallway of a chic hotel in Berlin. At the same time, the spectator meets a young man who trains furiously in a boxing ring. Back to the mysterious individual knocking on the door of a presidential suite. When the door opens, the viewer discovers the chiseled figure of a legend of Italian cinema, Franco Nero, who in the 1960s played the vigilante Django in Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti westerns. Bearded, frowning, azure blue gaze charged with anger and ancient sadness, this marmoreal face operates like a cinematic thunderclap on the big screen. Nero instantly summons a muted violence linked to his 150 films and his sixty-year career…

The young boxer is a freshly graduated lawyer, as idealistic as he is inexperienced. Of Turkish origin, Caspar Leinen (Elyas M’Barek, very convincing) intends to make his mark and deliver impartial justice at the heart of the German judicial system in the early 2000s. Fate will take care of bringing him his first case. The old Italian, whose name we only know, Fabrizio Collini, murdered a German tycoon loved by all in this hotel. The accused denounced himself but did not explain the reasons for his act. Committed, Caspar Leinen comes up against a silent client. He discovers that this mute old man is none other than the murderer of Hans Meyer, a generous businessman who served as his father figure in the early 1980s when he was just a penniless young Turkish emigrant.

Facing him, the civil party is organizing. A tenor of the bar, who was his professor in criminal law, is at the maneuver. The trial therefore seems written in advance: all that remains for Leinen is to make his client confess so that he does not receive life imprisonment. However, a doubt remains. How to defend a man who does not want to be? What then is his motive? That’s the whole point of The Collini Affaira solid and effective legal thriller adapted from the eponymous novel by Ferdinand von Schirach released in 2011.

courtroom film reminiscent of the music box by Costa Gavras (1989), this skilful procedural thriller by German director Marco Kreuzpaintner (Trade-The Shadow Traders, 2007) plunges its plot into a fascinating investigation, and brings back the ghosts of the past. The young hero, through successive revelations, will learn more about the strange murderer he is forced to defend. Certainly, the twists, twists and surprises of all kinds are sometimes a little forced. Nevertheless, the mechanics of the investigation, which goes back to an unpunished war crime, committed in 1944 in Montecatini, is enough to powerfully bind the narrative arc of this quest for truth strewn with pitfalls and pitfalls.

Moving interpretation

Above all, the film deals with one of the biggest scandals in German legal history: the Dreher law. Written under the mandate of Chancellor Adenauer and voted on the sly in 1968, this seemingly innocuous text will have allowed the limitation of the war crimes of several thousand former Nazis. A dark page from Germany presented without sleeve effects.

In the box of the accused, Franco Nero, 80 spring, old avenger straight as an “i”, delivers a moving interpretation. With his red eyes, his eloquent silences and this old hatred never extinguished, he embodies with intensity this hidden truth that always ends up coming out. Kreuzpaintner even offers a poetic finale to his implacable indictment. On the square of a Tuscan village, all he needs is a child’s balloon to summon compassion, forgiveness and mercy.


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