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The Globe and Mail

Review: 13 Minutes artfully tells story of would-be Hitler assassin

Christian Friedel as Georg Elser in 13 Minutes.

Bernd Schuller/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

3 out of 4 stars

13 Minutes
Written by
Fred Breinersdorfer, Leonie-Claire Breinersdorfer
Directed by
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Christian Friedel, Katharina Schuttler

From the director of 2004's Oscar-nominated Downfall (about the final days of Adolf Hitler) and the disastrously received Princess Diana biopic Diana (2013), comes the true story of Georg Elser who, in November, 1939, came oh-so-close to assassinating Hitler with a ticking time bomb in Munich. Handsomely shot and dreamily structured with flashbacks, 13 Minutes stars a highly watchable Christian Friedel as Elser, an accordion player with a dysfunctional family, a complicated love life and a firm belief that the National Socialist German Workers' Party needed to be stopped at all costs. The film is sympathetic to collaborators – a Nazi secretary and a good-cop police chief – while true-blue sieg-heilers are monsters. A torture scene involves fingernails and a red-hot carpentry tool; a love-making incident is much less graphic. An interrogation session involving a psychotropic drug is just too weird for words and some will find the film sentimental and too naked in its Academy baiting. That said, 13 Minutes works like clockwork as an artful (if not terribly ambitious) take on a grotesque era.

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