Cannes Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘Aus Dem Nichts’ (In the Fade)

Fatih Akin’s exploration of a mother’s loss is both timely relevant and heart-wrenching.

Director: Fatih Akin

Writer: Fatih Akin and Hark Bohm

Producer: Fatih Akin, Ann-Kristin Hofmann, Nurhan Sekerci-Porst, Herman Weigel

Main Cast: Diane Kruger and Numan Acar

Running Time: 106 minutes

The camera shakes violently, encapsulating the violent undertakings of the scene at large. Shaky camerawork sometimes equivocates to sloppy directing, but in the case of In the Fade, it is quite the opposite. The intentional misdirection of the camera captures the raw and unapologetic emotions of the main ensemble during a time of crisis—a time that within ten minutes of the film, determines the course to come. This particular crisis explores themes of depression, political ideologies, and social justice as the protagonist of the film, Diane Kruger’s Katja Sekerci, copes with the loss of her husband and child. A sudden and heart-breaking loss, the audience explores Katja’s pain as she embarks on an adventure of rectification and reason.

Never have I been so immediately captivated by a main actor’s performance. For the immediate ten minutes of the film, the audience watches Katja’s relationship with her husband, Nuri (Numan Acar), flourish. The audience becomes captivated by their unconventional circumstances, as Nuri is a convicted drug dealer who has been released from prison. The two have a son, Rocco, who becomes their shining star. Whilst the family stands out from most, their love for one another is unparalleled. As soon as the audience admires their situation, the plot turns on itself. Katja’s world is flipped upside down, leaving both the audience and Katja dumbfounded. Diane Kruger’s performance is exemplary, for I felt the anger, confusion, and genuine depression she felt as she coped with the loss of her world. As circumstances intensify once the deaths are deemed homicides, Katja’s grief turned vengeance fulfills the audience as well. The war-path for redemption esteems every party involved, fighting for justice for the lives of two pure souls.

Alongside the moving acting performances, the film’s score strengthened emotional scenes. During vulnerable takes, the score would become solemn and subdued to resonate with Katja’s grief. Because grief is a universal emotion, the audience can understand and empathize with Katja’s quest for self-consolation. In one particular scene, Katja is seen cradling her son’s belongings while lying in his bed. Tears steadily flow down her face as both the score strengthens and the outside rain pours. The rain symbolizes the audience’s frame of mind as sympathy overtakes everyone; the viewers can easily place themselves in Katja’s position as her precious son is gone forevermore.

However, possibly the sincerest portion of the film is the directing. The audience becomes tethered to the characters—anything they feel or do, the audience believes they do as well. As Katja walks into her husband’s store and explores the wreckage that is her former life, she recognizes her family’s blood plastered upon the walls. The blood taunts her, openly bullying her predicament. Her scream pierces the audience like a bullet, shattering our hearts into pieces. We soon realize that Katja’s tears and screams are our own, for everyone can relate to those taken away from us too soon. But possibly the most tender moment of the film is Katja’s reactions to the trial proceeding. Two suspects have been arrested in relation to the crime and undergo civil proceedings in court. Katja acts as a co-plaintiff during the proceedings and listens as witnesses, coroners, and psychologists assess the situation at hand. When the coroner reviews the details of Rocco’s death, including ripped limbs, burns, and torn organs, Katja politely asks to leave the room. But, whilst walking towards the door, Katja innately lashes out at Mrs. Möller, one of the suspects. This raw, pure act of violence stems directly from a mother’s love and fierce protection of her child. The mother lion ferociously protects her cub, a basic instinct that resonates within all.

In the Fade epitomizes its solemn, melancholy tone through the use of dark clothing and light backgrounds. The morning after Nuri and Rocco’s death, Katja can be seen wearing all black clothing while grieving in her living area. The sun’s rays shine bright through the room, but Katja looks like the black sheep amongst a sea of light. A similar situation occurs during the court proceedings. The harsh lighting of the court room contrasts against Katja’s and the prosecutors’ dark clothing. This subtle, but evident, symbolism references the grief that Katja experiences, but also the harshness of her situation. The civil proceedings are brutal, particularly as the defendants viciously attack Katja’s life and judgment. However, scenes like this one emphasize the social justice system’s turbulent, and sometimes unfair, procedures. During an era where race, gender, and social strata influence certain privileges, our social justice system should view each situation without bias. Yet, corrupt situations arise, in which this film indicates is a universal situation. Although this is a German film, the emotional availability and political allegories are relevant to each person and state. These political references are needed in these divisive times, for the universal tie of film can bring us together once more.