The “Collini case” demands justice

A courtroom film, Marco Kreuzpainter is a gripping tale of post-war Germany and the failed denazification.

“The dead don’t want revenge”, it is said in “The Collini Affair”, a film by German filmmaker Marco Kreuzpainter, adapted from a novel by Ferdinand von Schirach (released on April 27). But the living take justice into their own hands, like the opening gesture, the murder of a man in a large hotel, by another who fires three bullets and then sits quietly in the lobby, dropping just one sentence: “He’s dead. The lawyer assigned to the case, Caspar Leinen (played by Elyas M’Barek), discovers a silent, closed, indifferent culprit, Fabrizio Collini (played by the great actor Franco Nero), an impassive old Italian.

The lawyer also discovers that he knows the victim very well, Hans Meyer, an industrial magnate, patriarch of a rich and honorable family. The son of a mother of Turkish origin, Caspar grew up in the family, owes his social success to Hans Meyer, was a friend of his grandson and the lover of his granddaughter (the beautiful Alexandra Maria Lara), his childhood sweetheart, with whom he reconnects. Stuck in a personal dilemma, he has become the enemy of this beloved family, yet he will do his best to defend the accused despite his refusal to speak, his obstinacy in providing the slightest explanation for his actions.

For his first trial, the new lawyer is at first clumsy, and lacks the elements to defend his client; stubborn, he does his own research, leads the investigation until he discovers and brings out the truth. Hans Meyer was not a blameless man, he was a former Nazi officer, a war criminal, who ordered despicable acts in Italy. Previewed at the Rencontres du Cinéma de Gérardmer, “The Collini Affair” is partly a courtroom film, but it is above all a captivating story about post-war Germany, about how former Nazis were protected by the Dreher Law, passed in 1968, a disguised amnesty that allowed a statute of limitations on their crimes. Moving back and forth between the present and the past (1944, 1980s), the film tells the story of a scandal in German judicial history, the failed denazification, the memory of a country. “The Collini case” calls for justice for old and unpunished crimes, and also evokes contemporary Germany through immigration and the weight of social classes. We will just forget a very last shot, unnecessarily melodramatic.

Patrick TARDIT

“The Collini Affair”, a film by Marco Kreuzpainter (released on April 27).

France,Great East,Lorraine,Vosges,