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  • 4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This gripping German thriller is set in the ruins of post-war Berlin

Don’t wait for the remake of this German concentration camp survivor drama. And you can bet that right now in Hollywood someone’s assistant’s assistant is putting a call in to snap up the rights – it’s too good a story to pass up.

Nina Hoss, Germany’s answer to Kate Winslet (who’d be perfect for the remake) is Nelly, a Jewish camp survivor whose head is swaddled in bandages like a mummy after she is shot in the face and left for dead by the Nazis in the final days of the war.

After plastic surgery, Nelly, a singer, returns to Berlin where her family have all perished. All that’s left is her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld). But when she finds him, Johnny doesn’t recognise her, although he spots a likeness to his ‘dead’ wife and cracks a plan: why doesn’t this stranger pretend to be Nelly, and together they can collect her inheritance? So he trains her, making her practise Nelly’s handwriting and memorise friends’ faces from photos.

Why does Nelly go along with it? Because she suspects that it was Johnny who betrayed her to the Nazis in the first place, and wants to find out for sure. All of which sounds mighty far-fetched. But it works, and then some, making for a noir-ish and complex emotional thriller. And Hoss is incredible, playing Nelly with the shuffling gait and haunted expression of a dead woman walking.

Written by Cath Clarke

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 8 May 2015
  • Duration:98 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Christian Petzold
  • Screenwriter:Christian Petzold, Harun Farocki
  • Cast:
    • Nina Hoss
    • Ronald Zehrfeld
    • Nina Kunzendorf
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