Alone in Berlin: Film Review
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl
Director: Vincent Perez
The pen tries to be mightier than the sword in this war film that looks at the quiet more passive side of resistance.
In 1940s Berlin, Gleeson and Thompson are Anna and Otto Quangel, whose German lives are irrevocably changed when they receive word their son has been killed in combat.
The working class family is, obviously, shattered and Otto decides to take action, losing faith in the Fuhrer and the war which has robbed them of so much.
So, picking out postcards and lacing them with anti-propaganda messages, Otto starts leaving them in prominent parts of Berlin, hoping to instil a sense of revolution in the downtrodden working classes.
While he manages to persuade his wife to join the cause, the campaign gets the notice of the German authorities who dispatch an inspector (the ever reliable Daniel Bruhl) to try and quash the seeds of rebellion before they gain any light.
Alone in Berlin is blessed with a pair of quiet and unassuming leads that skirt around the prestige edges of the film.
But it lacks a palpable sense of tension to really ramp things up as former actor Perez guides the film through its workmanlike touches.
There is power in some of the language used within, and there's certainly a degree of thoughtfulness which has gone into the script and its debate and discussion over the wearying costs of war.
And despite the work of Bruhl, the film never really ignites in perhaps the way you'd expect as it moves from one sequence to the next. A forlorn Thompson, a harried looking Gleeson, great shots of period detail which are evocative - the elements are all there, ready for the lighting, but it never quite catches.
Alone in Berlin's sedentary pace is staved off by some of the lush orchestral score which passes through the film and gives it the feeling of something simmering.
It's perhaps more noteable for its philosophical edges - Gleeson asks "What more can a man donate other than his child?" to the war effort, and the pangs of loss are certainly felt.
Alone in Berlin's power lies more in the resistance of words, and the seeds of revolution rather than playing out the direct consequences of those actions. And, as a result, the film feels rather muted in its execution.