If Not Us, Who?

Germany continues to pick clean its historical skeletons with this smart, informative but pedestrian drama about the roots of the Red Army Faction. Aspiring writer Bernward Vesper (August Diehl) meets politically active literature student Gudrun Ensslin (Lena Lauzemis) at Tubingen University in 1961. The film tracks their fiery relationship, from early attempts to rescue the reputation of Bernward’s Nazi father to Gudrun’s doomed love affair with self-obsessed revolutionary Andreas Baader (Alexander Fehling). What the film does superbly is explore the insidious fallout from fascism, the way Germany struggled messily to extract itself from the prison of the past. Both central characters are superbly played and the period recreation feels immersive and lived-in. Where it fails is in the writing: the script is prosaic and schematic, and documentary-maker Andreas Veiel’s direction never takes flight as he pauses the action to make way for yet another montage of archive footage set to ersatz covers of classic rock. For a film about revolutionaries, this plays it far too safe.

Release details

Release date: Friday March 2 2012
Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Andres Veiel
Screenwriter: Andres Veiel
Cast: August Diehl
Lena Lauzemis
Alexander Fehling
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