In 1940, German soldier Hans Quangel (Louis Hofmann) is killed in action during the French campaign. His parents, Otto (Brendan Gleeson) and Anna (Dame Emma Thompson), are devastated by the loss and their bereavement is unmollified by the joyful hysteria at Germany's victory. Deciding that Führer Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are responsible for this tragedy and much more, Otto cannot stand by any longer. As such, Otto begins to create handwritten cards denouncing the regime's abuses and lies, which he secretly deposits throughout Berlin while a disillusioned Anna insists on helping him. As the subversive cards pile up over the years, Police Detective Escherich (Daniel Brühl) is tasked to track down the leafleteer while being pressured by his increasingly impatient S.S. superior for an arrest for this "treason", regardless of actual guilt. As the stakes rise even as Nazi Germany's day of reckoning approaches, Otto and Anna are determined to spread the truth regardless of the odds, ...Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Film of interesting WWII footnote not carried out to its full potential
"Alone in Berlin" (German-French-British co-production; 2016 release; 105 min.) brings the story of a German couple, Otto and Anna. As the movie opens, we see a young German soldier running through the weeods, and he is shot and killed. The young man's parents, Otto and Anna, are informed by letter of his death, and they don't know how to cope with this tragic news. Eventually Otto decides to speak up against the Nazis, and Hitler in particular, by leaving provocative postcards (such as: "Hitler is a liar, Hitler is a killer") in prominent public places. Anna joins him in these potentially dangerous tasks. Eventually, the Nazis become aware of this, and a manhunt is started... At this point we're 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Swiss actor/writer/producer/director Vincent Perez. Here he takes what amounts to a footnote in the annals of WWII and makes it, or at least tries to make it, into an epic battle between an elderly couple and the Nazi establishment. At certain moments, in particularly later in the film, it works quite well. But there are too many times that the films truly feels staged, I mean you can practically hear the director yell "and.... ACTION!", and an entire street with 1940s cars comes alive. The lead performances by Emma Thompson (as Anna) and Brendan Gleeson (as Otto) are fine, as they bring a quiet dignity to this couple that is so outraged by the tragic death of their son. Incidentally, it isn't until the closing credits that we get confirmation this movie is based on true events, and Otto and Elise really did exist (why they changed the woman's name to Anna, is not clear to me). Still, when all is said and done, it feels to me like the movie didn't quite carry this to its full potential, and that's a shame.
I had heard of this movie, but never had a chance to see it in the theater. I did catch it recently on Showtime. If you are interested in WWII, even if only a footnote of it, I'd suggest you check this out, be it on TV or VOD, or on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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