“In The Fade” captures your attention but never arouses it. The movie posits thoughtful questions about vengeance, motherhood and the fractured legal system but isn’t interesting enough that we care about the answers. Although an enjoyable experience, the movie feels overlong, one that you will forget about a few moments after you leave the theater.
It’s a shame, because writer and director Fatih Akin has some really interesting subject matter here. Diane Kruger plays Katja, a German woman whose Turkish husband and son are killed in a bombing by neo nazis. Katja falls into the pangs of depression and self abuse, experimenting with drugs and slitting her wrists before the trial begins against the bombers. Katja doesn’t speak her feelings, so Kruger channels them instead through the ferocity of her eyes and the trembling of her skin.
What’s unusual, though, is the story structure, with certain elements of the plot that were seemingly inconsequential earlier, now tying in to something larger at the end. It’s like noticing that Kayja’s son played with a toy truck at the beginning of the film, and that toy truck now randomly bearing major relevance at the end of the film. The return of these plot devices honestly feels more silly than clever, like a desperate attempt to wrap all things up in a tight, poetic knot.
This movie operates best in moments of loose control, where the camera and script act as loose hands guiding our characters, where the actors are given free reign to explore and conquer withing the confines of those palms. But every time Akin tries to generate needless tension or evoke a tight, emotional moment, he ends up deflating “In The Fade.” There is a worthwhile story lurking in this film, it just needs a better storyteller to pull it out.