Seven decades later, the creative well has somehow not yet run dry on the ripple effects of Nazi Germany’s offenses, though writer-director Georg Maas’s slick and sulky second feature is not another dime-a-dozen Holocaust tragedy.
Loosely based on both historical fact and Hannelore Hippe’s novel Eiszeiten, this domestic psychological drama concerns the tense, long-dormant plight of Katrine (Juliane Köhler), a middle-age Norwegian grandmother whose family is asked to testify against the state on behalf of war orphans.
Katrine, it’s revealed early on, is a product of Lebensborn breeding and repatriation, the daughter of an occupying German soldier and Norwegian screen legend Liv Ullmann, whose rare appearance seems especially fitting for a project that plays like some ersatz Ingmar Bergman devotee adapting a John le Carré novel.
Set in an idyllic village circa 1990, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall (with further intrigue unfolding in superfluously backdated Super 8 flashbacks), the film takes one entire act too long to shake its mopey fog and get crackling, when Katrine admits a horrifying truth to three generations of her family, that her part in East German politics once ruined the lives of others. (See also, hint hint: The Lives of Others.)