In 1973 two German lovers (Watson and Bruhl) get caught in a coup. Daniel is taken to a camp and Lena is hot on his tails to the rescue.
Like any other movie I review here, whether based on a true story or not (the former is always debatable) I usually do a bit of research first-hand like any other critic would. So when I found out about what went on at the so called Colonia Dignidad roughly translated to Colony of Dignity, I was horrified and in a way was intrigued to see how director Florian Gallenberger would bring these horrifying acts to the screen.
The film starts off by establishing our characters, Lena is an air-stewardess and Bruhl is a photographer. On the day of the coup, he gets arrested for taking pictures and shortly after taken to The Colony. Lena finds out where he is taken and joins in hopes of saving him. There she meets the place’s notorious leader Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist)
The real life Schafer by the way has his own place amongst the list of most evil men alongside Goeth and Charlie Manson. The Colony on the outside appeared to be a charity run organisation but in reality, Schafer was a cruel and vicious paedophile amongst many other things. The film treads very lightly over these issues. Don’t get me wrong the movie does switch to hyper violence against adults, but its mainly revolved around the lover’s quest of escape.
I understand why they went this way and I also understand why people disagree with the film for doing that. Schindler’s List wouldn’t have worked if there was a love story involved same goes for Hotel Rwanda. Does it work here? Well yes and no.
Watson is convincing as Lena who would or is in the movie, going through hell to save her boyfriend. A brave and noble act in itself. Bruhl gets the scenes of pain and he too is convincing in his role. Nyqvist is effective as he is creepy in playing this deranged cult leader.
When it hits, it hits hard. Gallenberger and crew have made an impactful film, sometimes too uncomfortable to watch but like a car wreck you can’t pull your eyes away.