Set in a divided Germany in 1983, during a peak period for Cold War tensions between East and West. Martin Rauch, a wide-eyed 24-year-old East German soldier plucked from obscurity, goes undercover as a West German soldier for the East German Secret Service.
Refreshing to watch the beginning of this series on Sundance Channel, a foreign language entry that catches a moment in recent German history without the usual quintessential archetypes and funny accents of any random American production involving Germans. The tables are turned in fact because it is the American characters speaking German who seem a bit less than convincing. English subtitles are no major distraction, because the script is terse and direct.
As in most German cinema, nothing is left to the imagination. If a character is destined to be a hero or a saint (or something in between) that element is telegraphed in advance by the director's emphasis on a frown, an arched eyebrow, a look of confusion, or a surreptitious stage movement. We know where the series is going by the end of the first episode, yet we identify with the young man at the center of the story irrespective of his opening attitude. There is none of the ambivalence or inchoate suspense found in one of John Le Carré's filmed spy novels.
I am looking forward immensely to viewing the remainder of the series in spite of not believing, really, that many of the easy coincidences, arch villains, clandestine meetings in the woods, and other stereotypical story devices could have actually happened.
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