Film

Film

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While the serial-killer sob story subgenre rarely yields a nuanced product, Kai S. Pieck’s debut feature finds a plaintive, compelling route to the pathology of 1960s German child-killer Jürgen Bartsch. Framed as a candid confession from an incarcerated, 26-year-old Bartsch (Tobias Schenke) to a video camera, this episodic psychodrama initially seems to blame the usual suspects—frigid parents, sexual confusion, a sadistic Catholic school, unrequited love—for the monstrous severity of his crimes. However, the milquetoast Bartsch emerges as a complex, repentant individual—a brutal murderer who rails against child abuse—yearning for adolescent affection to alleviate a painful nostalgia for his own repressed boyhood, and perpetrating violent crimes to justify the “lesser” crimes of others.

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