Runtime 93 minutes R
When you sit through as many deficient movies as I do, it’s a refreshing treat to sit through one that is well-written, well-directed, well-acted and well-photographed. This has all four.
The setting is Hamburg in the winter of 1945 just after the Germans were defeated. Col. Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) and his wife, Rachael (Kiera Knightley) take possession of the German mansion of widowed German Stefan Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann) while Lewis is working on the occupation.
…a tale of high tension, lots of
passion and betrayal.
Without the agreement of Rachael, Lewis asks Stefan and his daughter to stay in the house, living in the attic, which stuns Rachael as she still sees them as the enemy. Thus begins a tale of high tension, lots of passion and betrayal.
Directed by James Kent with a screenplay by Joe Shrapnel, Amy Waterhouse and Rhidian Brook, based on his novel, the film captures the atmosphere of bombed out Hamburg that killed more than 42,000 people, wounded more than 37,000, and caused the destruction of 6,200 acres, leaving millions homeless. The fact that the German populace had no say in how they were governed resulted in lots of dissention among the masses about the occupying British force.
The character of Morgan is actually based upon Brook’s grandfather, Col. Walter Brook, who was dispatched by the British to do exactly what Morgan is charged with doing and who allowed the family of the home requisitioned for his abode to live alongside him in the house for five years. Serendipitously, producer Ridley Scott also had a similar experience, living in the house of a German officer. Scott’s mother was very friendly with the German officer’s wife.
Knightley gives a mesmerizing performance that will probably be forgotten when awards time comes around, but I can’t imagine anyone giving a better one. While she carries the movie, Clarke and Skarsgård are not far behind her. Both have emotional roles and both carry them off with aplomb.
Tony Medley is an MPAA-accredited film critic. See more reviews at TonyMedley.com.