The End of Truth (film criticism): Can Germany do more than romance?

Music & TV

German genre film does not have it easy. As soon as the local filmmakers try to break through the existing boundaries of romantic comedies and funny romances, the well-tarred road becomes a stony path. Only a few cinematic attempts ever managed to remain in the memory of cineastes: Hans-Christian Schmid’s thriller “23 – Nothing is as it seems” from 1998 and Christian Alvart’s “Antibodies” from 2005 are still the exception. Director and scriptwriter Philipp Leinemann has made his mark with the recently released DVD, Blu-ray and Stream “The end of truth” nevertheless dares to give the political thriller in German cinema a chance and moves with the result on the border strip between big pictures and small television play.

Desk heroes for use

Ronald Zehrfeld (“What would have been”) plays the BND agent Martin Behrens, who serves the country’s security with idealism and passion. At least he wants to believe it. His attitude that the BND and the secret services always play by the rules they have set themselves is cracked when information blackmailed by him is passed on and misused for a serious drone attack. When his girlfriend and journalist Aurice, played by Antje Traue (“Man of Steel”), is also killed in an attack, the doubts about the system are no longer suspect. The real threat is growing.

On the other hand there is Patrick Lemke, played by Alexander Fehling (“Gut gegen Nordwind”), who as a bureaucrat only follows protocol and is put under Behrens’ nose as a watchdog. If necessary, Lenke also unconsciously supports the arms trade, which from his naive point of view is somehow part of the business between politics, business and lobbyism. But Lemke feels the effects and consequences of his protocols on his own body, which by no means follow a clear line.

Good approaches with German severity

It takes what feels like an eternity until the film gets going. The calm staging stands in pleasant contrast to the harshness of the secret service tasks that have to be done. The growing victim count is unfortunately one of them. But the calm tone does not benefit the effects of the conspiracy. The viewer misses tension completely, which is also partly due to the cast of Roland Zehrfeld. Although he plays the agent, who gradually loses his ideals, technically perfect, his appearance is simply not made for the role. Despite his imposing figure he always seems too soft and gentle to make you believe that he really stands up to the world when the going gets tough. In contrast, Alexander Fehling as Lemke is a villain who, dressed in mouse-grey suits and with a shuffling walk, poses a real threat. What the protocol says is correct, otherwise no one would write it down. Questions and doubts are not appropriate. Fehling perfectly embodies this stoic thinking and the doggedness of being right. If bureaucracy had to be combined in one figure, Patrick Lemke would be the blueprint for it.

narrowly missed an opportunity

Unfortunately, director Philipp Leinemann’s work does not represent a milestone in the German thriller genre. The story fluctuates too much between great expectations, which in the end have too little effect, and an overall look that would also be in good hands with the public broadcasters. Nevertheless, the movie has to be paid a compliment, as it shows courage for new shores and combines a convincing cast. If you expect a thriller full of suspense then you will probably be disappointed at the end. But with the knowledge to follow the events on silent soles, the film should at least be given a chance in the domestic stream or in the Blu-ray player. 

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