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film review

The People vs. Fritz Bauer, driven by Burghart Klaussner’s excellent performance as the irascible and uncompromising Bauer, is a more-or-less successful thriller.

Admirably, Germany has faced its wartime history; now, the culture turns its attention to the history of how that was achieved. In 2014, Labyrinth of Lies created a fictional prosecutor in 1960s Frankfurt and gave him the Hollywood treatment to approach the true story of the first war-crimes prosecutions held under German law. Next, The People vs. Fritz Bauer turns to the real figure of the crusading attorney-general that launched those trials, and spins a fictionalized tale about how he also helped Israel bring the Nazi Adolf Eichmann to justice. Again, the narrative approach is highly conventional, surrounding the beleaguered Bauer with crucial allies and convenient villains, and enmeshing him in a gay subplot (drawn from rumours about the real Bauer's sexuality) that seems far-fetched. But the film, driven by Burghart Klaussner's excellent performance as the irascible and uncompromising Bauer, is a more-or-less successful thriller that can rely for tension on the shadowy setting of a society trying to hide from itself.