The Captain review: Divergent series helmer Robert Schwentke returns ti his native country for a flooring World War II true story that deserves attention.
The Captain review by Paul Heath.
From accomplished Hollywood filmmaker Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveller’s Wife, Red) comes this involving new motion picture that sees him return to his homeland and his native tongue for a monochrome drama set during the final days of World War II.
We open to our see a soldier being chased across open terrain, somewhere in rural Germany in the dying days of the war. The man, Herold (Max Hubacher) is dressed in raggedy clothes, a number of officers on his tail. He immediately manages to evade capture by hiding in a trench, his pursuers eventually giving up. A period of time passes and Herold moves on, only to quickly stumble across an abandoned vehicle seemingly stuck in the mud in a nearby field. Inside is a suitcase that contains a complete Nazi captain’s uniform, clothing that the young private decides to try on.
Almost immediately, a fellow officer approaches Herold to see if he needs assistance in getting the stuck vehicle out of the mud, the approaching soldier very much thinking that a Nazi captain is before him. Herold continues the charade and impersonates the officer, taking on the identity of the perpetrators he is trying to escape from.
Schwentke writes this impressive drama, as well as does a masterful job of helming, seemingly deciding to take a massive change of direction from his last few movies – the eventually ill-fated Divergent series. His plotted move is welcomed and this striking effort engrosses almost from the off, and one really doesn’t know where the film is going to take us next.
Also, rather surprisingly, The Captain is based on true events, something confirmed as the final credits roll. It has to be – the story is so preposterous that it must be true, the young private pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes that he comes into contact with. Impressing in the lead is Hubbacher, a young actor with great things destined for him for the future. His purity and innocence is conveyed perfectly in the opening scenes, but the character a as he pulls on that uniform, and the baffling plot of the movie plays out.
Schwentke re-teams with frequent collaborator Florian Ballhaus (son of the late, legendary Scorsese favourite Michael Ballhaus) who delivers the film in highly saturated black and white where the blacks are very black and the whites aa white – perhaps signifying the good and evil that is such a very big part of the film.
The film takes its time in getting where it wants and needs to get to – the title card doesn’t appear until nearly thirty minutes in – and the film is much better for it. As violent and horrific in places, very much playing into the war it depicts, the picture tells a narrative not told that often – the internal war that Germany experienced in the 1940s, and I was intrigued and engulfed in it all the way through.
Extraordinary, extremely well-crafted and laced with as much humour as foreboding intensity, The Captain was a genuine surprise. The film is very much deserved of an audience, and although it is still awaiting distribution, we hope that it gets one.
The Captain review by Paul Heath at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Captain is currently awaiting a release.