Zu tatort: Schwarzer Peter" (crimescene: Black Peter"), first aired Sunday, January 18th 0815pm.
Set in the German city of Leipzig, this is the 5th case of Lieutenants Eva Saalfeld (native Leipzig-born Simone Thomalla) and Andreas Keppler (Martin Wuttke), who replaced the great previous Leipzig-buddies Ehrlicher & Kain. Time for a review.
In the Weiße Elster" (="White Pica", a sidearm of the river Saale) a family on a boat-trip paddles over the corpse of Peter Schneider, a Leipzig tradesman. Schneider got tied-up with a bondage-rope and -knot, his legs cut of at knee-height. Then he got mortally stabbed and thrown into the canal approximately a week before the discovery.
The Lieutenants meet a messed-up family left behind and a company-staff, who mainly have not much good to say about their murdered boss. It is an aluminum-refining and -trading outfit which was just about to cut a rich prosperous deal with Iraqi partners. But Schneider's aggressive and reckless leading-patterns even to his closest employees made him a hated man.
There appear to be some mistake with the cast-list here on IMDb: Suzanne v. Borsody is the widow 'Gitta SCHNEIDER', NOT '-Kuhnert'! Chiara Schoras* plays her daughter 'Susanne Schneider', married 'Kuhnert'.
Susanne Kuhnert revives her parents relation in her own screwed-up violent and sex-exploiting marriage, including the impossibility to just leave her brutal and weak husband for the sake of or despite?- their daughter.
We have an accomplishment here: I rank this episode in the tatort"-all-star-hall close to for instance tatort: Reifezeugnis" (crimescene: Certificate Of Graduation", GER 1977, by director Wolfgang Petersen of Das Boot" & In The Line Of Fire"-fame). The human drama behind the case is filmed and performed with astonishing authenticity.
Great remarks go out to Sandra Borgmann, an actress who earned broader attention in the successful cult-series Berlin, Berlin", a daily comedy loosely conceived after the international successful Franka Potente- (Jason Bourne I & II") -movie Lola Runs". Borgmann evolved from this more comedian work and image to an outstanding character-actress in several recent productions, showing another awestruck play here as daughter 'Yvonne Schneider', the cool blonde", a resolute but in fact fragile soul, haunted by the brutal education in her violent father's house.
Martin Wuttke ('Lieutenant Keppler' and soon to be seen as 'Adolf Hitler' in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds") is an established stage-actor and director but I gotta be honest here: I don't know much about German theater or theater in general, so I'll just give you my point. Wuttke's interpretation of 'Lieutenant Keppler' is my personal 'Humphrey Bogart' in tatort". Keppler is a character who can't get along with other people very well. He's too directly, up to the point of ignorance and refuses to be sensitive to colleagues, witnesses or even relatives of victims when he gets annoyed or believes to be lied to. He and Saalfeld were a married couple approximately 10 years before this new team-up and in the second or third case it's already been revealed, that they had to divorce due to the loss of their common child. In an interrogation in this episode it becomes clear that Keppler once had a drinking problem, and his general habit not to drive by car implies that the kid died by a car-accident that may have been caused by him, probably under alcohol-influence.
But that habit of Keppler to rely on public transport or taking a walk is of strong dramatical potential for the films: Keppler is an old-fashioned trace-hound in his district, avoiding the distance that the use of a car creates to the environment by taking cable-cars, buses or his feet instead and thereby being closer to the street". His worn-out clothing, greasy hairdo and grumpy personality make him an authentic human being and a valuable German TV-relative of 'Philip Marlowe'. He's strictly relying on his instinct but often seems emotionally distant.
SPOILER AHEAD: Suggestion: what the script -at least to me- leaves an open option, is that they probably got the wrong guy at the end". I cling to the theory, that Schneider wasn't killed by his wife but by his three children. Gitta Kuhnert goes into jail for them because she feels in debt for giving them birth to such a violent father and her children still have their whole life to live. In the confession she claims she sawed her husbands legs off because she had a disc-slip (german: Bandscheibenvorfall") last year and shouldn't lift too heavy..." a line of grotesque comic-relief. Daughter 'Yvonne Schneider' is a nurse and might therefore be capable of basic amputation-procedures. Daughter 'Susanne Schneider' -due to her brutal husband- might be into basic bondage-knots. The gay son 'Michael Schneider' (Loram Voelklein) has just opened a comic-store. As a decorative application there's a Scottish claymore attached a possible 'corpus delicti'. Also the cutting of the victim's legs reminded me of a scene in Frank Miller's marvelous graphic novel Sin City". I don't know whether this was intentional, but I like the thought, that the cops caught the wrong person, that the actual killers go free and the viewers are as clueless about that, as the two detectives. That would once more prove the realism in tatort".
trivia: Schwarzer Peter" is the German name for the card-game Old Maid" or Vieux garçon". The term is also German gossip for as much as Shortest Straw". When you get the Black Peter" you're meant to do something nobody else wants to do. A more contemporary but also gross version of that phrase is die Arschkarte" (=to draw the ass-card"). Here it might be a hint that the three adult kids pulled straws (or the likes) to decide who had to do the lethal stab. SPOILER END
Parental advisory needed: brief but clear sexual images in combination with sexual violence, domestic violence and performances of mental instability and nervous breakdowns.
*About Chiara Schoras: please also read comment for Falling Rocks" (2000).
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