Fantasia 2020: “Free Country”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For someone who is young, lives in poverty and in an area that has no prosperous future to offer, it is easy to get tempted by offers from strangers. An offer of a well paid job, beautiful apartment, and lots of entertainment. In some cases, it may work, but what happens when it’s all just a lie?

Löwitz is a small and beautiful town. It captivates the eyes but terrifies the mind as it is been shadowed by the murder of two sisters. Two homicide detectives from out-of-town are invited to investigate the brutal crime. But as soon as they dive into the life of Löwitz and get to know the people, they realize that this town knows how to hide secrets, moreover, it is very good at hiding the bodies too, of not just the two recent ones they’re yet to locate, but also those that still need to be found.

“Free Country”, directed by Christian Alvart, invites the audience into 1992 Germany after reunification. It is a remote area right by the Szczecin Lagoon. Patrick Stein (Trystan Pütter) and Markus Bach (Felix Kramer) have different approaches towards their work. Patrick is soft and patient, Markus, on the other hand, won’t care whether it is a woman or a man he is about to interrogate, he will be harsh and ruthless until he gets his answer. At first, Patrick does not like his partner’s methods, but when slowly realizes that the people won’t talk or share any information, he begins to reconsider the methods of his own.

Felix Kramer as the ruthless and unlikeable Markus is superb. His portrayal of Markus will disgust you in the best sense possible. He reveals all the dark sides of a man who is too good at his job, but too violent to share a road with. Trystan Pütter as a conflicted but brilliant detective, Patrick, is all what you will want to see in someone in his position. Someone who is willing to use manners to get his job done, but as someone, who is willing to put aside politics and become like a hammer if required.

As for the storyline, it captures a side of Germany that is willing to show that it can control crime and carry out justice. It unites two detectives from Berlin and Stasi with the two different points of view to uncover the dark secrets of a town that, apparently, enjoys the taste of blood. Sharp and straightforward, “Free Country” is suspenseful-till-the-closing-scene, leaving you on the edge of your seat throughout. As an excellent crime thriller, Christian Alvart does not disappoint by capturing a riveting atmosphere of the past, its beauty, morality, honesty, and brutality in a way only Germans can do.  

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