The People vs. Fritz Bauer

From its startling first scene, The People vs. Fritz Bauer proclaims itself a study in ambiguity. A man lies eyes closed in a running bathtub, head slowly sinking as the water reaches the rim. Is he asleep or has he lost his faith in life? Even if award-winning director Lars Kraume does not entirely let on, we soon learn that this man is Fritz Bauer (played by The White Ribbon’s lauded Burghart Klaussner), a Jewish attorney general intent on finding the infamous Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and bringing him to trial in his home country. It is the late 1950s, while Germany’s economy booms, its people remain politically ill at ease. The young stand surprisingly dissociated from the Holocaust’s shadow, while the older generation remains uncomfortably implicated in the country’s crimes. In fact, most of the hindrances and potentially mortal dangers Bauer faces as a closeted gay Jewish lawyer come from the men he supposedly works in collaboration with, men who have the power to bring criminals like Eichmann to justice, but who ultimately hold sway in the government to conceal their own Nazi past. This atmospherically shot film explores the complexities of alienation and assimilation, both cultural and political, even while its plot unfolds as sleekly as that of any historical thriller. —Zoe Pollak
w/English Subtitle
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