Katja’s life collapses after a senseless act impacts her. After a time of mourning and injustice, she seeks revenge.
- Katja Sekerci: Diane Kruger
- Danilo Fava: Denis Moschitto
- Nuri Sekerci: Numan Acar
- Habberbeck: Johannes Krisch
- André Möller: Ulrich Brandhoff
- Edda Möller: Hanna Hilsdorf
- Jürgen Möller: Ulrich Tukur
- Hauptkommissar Gerrit Reetz: Henning Peker
- Kommissar Fischer: Laurens Walter
- Michi: Uwe Rohde
- Hülya: Aysel Iscan
- Frau Petersen: Christa Krings
- Knacki: Adam Bousdoukos
- Steffi: Jessica McIntyre
- Frau Hartmann: Melanie Struve
- Brigit: Samia Chancrin
- Annemarie: Karin Neuhäuser
- Frau Sebnem: Şiir Eloğlu
- Rocco Sekerci: Rafael Santana
- Receptionist: Youla Boudali
- Frau Hartmann: Melanie Adler
- …: Edgar Selge
- Kiez-Bewohnerin: Thuy-Van Truong
- Türke: Yasar Cetin
- Producer: Fatih Akın
- Director of Photography: Rainer Klausmann
- Editor: Andrew Bird
- Production Design: Tamo Kunz
- Costume Design: Katrin Aschendorf
- Key Grip: Carsten Scharrmann
- Steadicam Operator: Donat Schilling
- Music: Joshua Homme
- Producer: Marie-Jeanne Pascal
- First Assistant Editor: Julia Drache
- Producer: Mélita Toscan du Plantier
- Assistant Costume Designer: Michaela Rinker
- Music Supervisor: Pia Hoffmann
- Production Coordinator: Katja Zaus
- Storyboard Designer: Raymond Boy
- Makeup Artist: Maike Heinlein
- Still Photographer: Gordon A. Timpen
- Unit Manager: Maria Hoffmann
- First Assistant Director: Scott Kirby
- Second Assistant Director: Florian Schwombeck
- Lighting Technician: Peter Assmann
- First Assistant Camera: Michael Hain
- Gaffer: Torsten Lemke
- Casting: Monique Akin
- TreesOfEternity: **Warning: Spoilers**
Let me start off by saying this film is not about terrorists striking in the US but about home grown terrorist in Germany, specifically Hamburg. It is there that Katja (Diane Kruger) is married to Kurdish immigrant Nuri Sekerci (Numan Acar). The pair also have a 5 year old son named Rocco. Nuri runs a business that helps new immigrants translate various documents to help them and one day Katja drops off their son there while she visits with one of her friends. As she leaves she bumps into a young woman who left her bike nearby unchained.
As she returns home that evening she finds the road she takes past the office blocked off and flashing police lights illuminating the buildings. Stopping she gets out of the car and runs to find the office building blown apart. Someone has exploded a bomb outside and both Nuri and Rocco were instantly killed.
Katja is torn by the event and is doing all she can not to lose control. Her friend and parents come to stay with her and keep an eye on her. Going out one night she contacts her friend and lawyer and he provides her with drugs she takes to deal with her inner pain, drugs one of his clients left. The lawyer worked for both her and Nuri, helping when years before when Nuri was a drug dealer. Having a child changed all that and Nuri and Katja had remained clean for years.
She tells the police all about the girl she saw and the investigation moves forward. But rather than dig for the truth the police seem more focused on Nuri as an immigrant and potential terrorists himself. Noting his past record they check the house out and find her drugs but the officer in charge lets her off the hook. Still, their focus remains on Islamic terrorists ignoring the description of the girl she gave them. Until someone else gives her up.
It turns out the pair responsible for the bombing were neo-Nazis, André (Ulrich Brandhoff) and Edda Möller (Hanna Hilsdorf). With evidence in hand the prosecutor charges them and the trial proceeds. This becomes a fascinating part of the film showing how differently the cases are handled there than here. Each day Katja must face the discussion of the deaths of her loved ones, certain in her own mind that these were the two that destroyed her family.
The question rises as the trial progresses just how far the defense is willing to go. All of the past is brought up to steer the focus away from the defendants. The defense also makes an attempt at discounting the evidence that was found in the home of André’s father, the man responsible for calling in the police and leading to their arrest. It isn’t certain whether this line of defense will play out in favor of the defendants or in favor of Katja. But finding justice and finding revenge are two different things to consider.
The movie is well made and acted with Kruger turning in yet another great performance. She is center stage here from start to finish, the entire film revolving are her character. This is a complex character not prone to hysterics all the time but unraveling due to her circumstances as the film progresses. Kruger makes her believable and the pain she releases is tangible at times.
The movie is definitely a depressing tale to follow and it moves along with ups and downs as it moves forward. And while Kruger does a tremendous job I felt it difficult to get involved too deep with the character and her predicament. Still it was an interesting film to watch and worth taking a look at.
Acting was A+, Human emotion was A+ but do not mix who is who with what is what for that Kurds are not Turks. If you read Greek history for the past 600 years, you know what is what. Bringing in the Nazis in this is just a way to distort viewers perception of what is evil.
- Stephen Campbell: **_Disappointingly shallow_**
> _In Germany, we have serious issues with the rise of neo-Nazis, and how they’ve – neo-Nazis and racists – now reached the centre of society. In the Nineties, you could see the enemy. They were skinheads, and they were idiots, and violent. But what are they wearing now? What do they look like and how do they talk? Now, they are very smart. We had the so-called NSU killings. Between 2000 and 2007, a group of three neo-Nazis, two men and one woman, killed ten people. Nine immigrants – eight with Turkish or Kurdish background, one with Greek background – and one_ _German police officer. And until 2011, the police, the society, and the press thought these murders were done by the Turkish mafia. Just because the victims were all killed with the same gun, and they were Turkish, people said, “_These must have been drug dealers, or they must have something to do with prostitution_.” That’s the racism of the society. In November 2011, it came out that these killings were done by this group. And it came out by random – not because of a successful police investigation._
– Fatih Akin; “‘I Will Get Attacked for It, But F*ck That’: Fatih Akin on _In the Fade_, Diane Kruger, and Neo-Nazis” (Bilge Ebiri); _Village Voice_ (January 2, 2018)
Fatih Akin, the writer and director of _Aus dem nichts_ [lit. trans. _From Nothing_] is a political individual; he makes political films and he makes political statements in his personal life. Akin identifies as a German-Turk; he was born in Hamburg, but his parents are both Turkish, having come to Germany with the first wave of Turkish immigrants following the _Wirtschaftswunder_ of the fifties and sixties. He lives and works in Germany, and although almost all of his films are set there (the notable exception is _The Cut_), and all have German-funding, he considers himself a Turkish filmmaker. When he won Best Screenplay for _Auf der anderen Seite_ at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, he accepted the award “_on behalf of Turkish cinema_.” Easily the best known/most notorious of his political statements, however, was in 2006 when he was photographed wearing a t-shirt with the word “BU卐H” on it (the “S” replaced by a swastika). Displaying a swastika in public is against the law in Germany, and after a complaint was made, he was investigated (but not charged) by German police. He later defended the shirt, stating,
> _Bush’s policy is comparable with that of the Third Reich. I think that under Bush, Hollywood has been making certain films at the request of the Pentagon to normalise things like torture and Guantánamo. I’m convinced the Bush administration wants a third world war. I think they’re fascists […] You can apply irony to something like that. You can redefine the symbol in a politically correct horizon. My T-shirt is more than mere provocation. You have to look into the context. The swastika is not there on its own, but as part of the word ‘BUSH.’ One would have to be pretty stupid, not to understand that._
In short, this is not a guy afraid to speak his mind.
Akin’s main political preoccupation in his filmography, however, is not Nazism or American presidents, it’s the experience of Turkish immigrants in Germany, specifically the racism often directed towards them, racism which is oftentimes found masquerading as patriotism. It is unknown how many Turks are actually in Germany, as the German census doesn’t allow people to record their ethnicity, but as of 2011, there were 2.7 million inhabitants with at least one Turkish parent. However, academic estimates suggest there be as many as 7 million Turks, or people identifying as Turks, in the country. Now, with that many people of a different nationality in a country, problems are going to arise (just ask the British), and this is where Akin focuses a great deal of his energies. Everything from _Solino_ (2002) to _Gegen die Wand_ (2004) to _Auf der anderen Seite_ (2007) to _Soul Kitchen_ (2009) has political DNA derived from the experience of racism in Germany.
So, with that in mind, _Nichts_ (co-written with Hark Bohm) doesn’t jump off the page as a typical Akin film – when former convicted drug dealer Nuri Sekerci (Numan Acar) and his son are killed in a bomb blast at his office, his wife Katja (Diane Kruger) has faith that the police and courts will find and punish those responsible. However, as Katja finds herself becoming more and more disillusioned with the systems which are supposed to be on her side, she comes to believe she must take things into her own hands. Read like that, this could be any number of bad Hollywood movies (F. Gary Gray’s wonderfully risible _Law Abiding Citizen_ (2009) springs to mind). However, when we include the fact that Nuri is Turkish, and that the police quickly come to suspect the bombing may have been connected to a Neo-Nazi group, it fits much more comfortably into his _oeuvre_. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.
First of all, the film is rigidly divided into an intentionally artificial three-act structure, with each act given its own title (“The Family”, “The Trial”, and “The Sea”) and introduction by way of home-movie footage. One of the most significant problems with the film is that the acts simply don’t yoke. The first is a pretty decent study of grief, the second is a rather dull courtroom drama, and the third is a bizarrely hollow (and irritatingly repetitive) investigation into the morality of revenge. The last act mirrors the first in its use of slow pacing, long shots of people not doing very much, and sparse dialogue (as opposed to the very wordy second act), and while this is interesting in setting the narrative up in the first act, it falls flat in the third, as the whole thing ends up coming across as rather po-faced and self-important; a film convinced of its own profundity. For all that, however, up until the conclusion, I was thinking I would give it three stars; it’s entertaining enough, in a fairly disposable way. But then the bottom falls out. The last scene itself is actually pretty good. It’s what happens next that irritated me.
This has not been an especially political film – the Neo-Nazi storyline barely features; a few mentions by police in the first act, a single scene in the second, and a couple of short scenes in the third. That’s it. As Katja is the only character who is really given any degree of agency, the Neo-Nazi characters are little more than background extras (in fact, in some scenes, they are _literally_ background extras). So this is not a film which spends a lot of time delving into issues of racism in Germany or offering insight into the rise of Right-Wing Populism across Europe. It’s a revenge drama. However, as it ends, a legend appears on-screen informing the audience how many race crimes are committed against Turks in Germany each year. The film has absolutely not, by any stretch of the imagination, earned the right to preach to the audience in this way. It’s almost as if Akin forgot he was trying to make something political, only remembering in time to throw together a vaguely worded statement on the sufferings of his people in an effort to give the audience something to think about. It doesn’t work, with the statement serving only to trivialise the issue by trying to tie it to a film in which it barely featured, and it leaves a decidedly bitter aftertaste.
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