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Half a Life (TV) More at IMDbPro »Ein halbes Leben (original title)

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Two lives changed completely

6/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
31 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Ein halbes Leben" is an Austrian/German German-language movie from 7 years ago that won several awards and was nominated for even more. The writer and director is experienced (television) filmmaker Nikolaus Leytner. It runs for slightly under 90 minutes as these television films usually do and features Matthias Habich and Josef Hader in the main roles. The former plays the father of a murder victim and the latter plays the one who killed her. New developments in crime lab analysis bring the possibilities to identify offenders of former sex crimes. Now this initially sounds really good, but it also brings a whole lot of complications, for the main characters, but also for the supporting characters. Nobody is black or white, good or evil in here. Habich's character's bravery and determination in terms of finding his daughter's killer may be admirable, but it is borderline obsession already and has a truly negative impact on his life. And when he is caught, his life seems almost completely empty. Hader's character may have been a beast in the past, but the murder was not intentional and decades later he is a loving dad of a young daughter who needs him (goldfish scene) and he also cares for an old lady in his house who would be entirely alone without him. The shadows from the past have a negative impact on all of these people and sometimes it shows that justice may not be the most human solution, at least not in the legal sense. The two lead actors carry this film nicely. I am quite a fan of Hader and that's why I liked him especially once again. Easily among Austria's finest back then already too. The low runtime helps in keeping the film essential and it felt easy to care for the characters and hope that happiness will find their way back into their lives or just stay there. For a television film, this was truly an outstanding achievement. You rarely find something of this quality in Germany for the small screen, especially looking at the mostly garbage Tatort series. That's why I certainly recommend the watch here. You just have to keep in mind that this is not really a crime or police investigation films. It is a character study of two people fighting their inner demons and how it affects everybody around them. if that sounds good to you, you definitely need to check it out. Thumbs up.

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