Wednesday, December 9, 2009

439) The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

439) The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) Dir: Uli Edel Date Released: September 2008 Date Seen: December 9, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5

It's a shame that The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli Edel's big-budget epic about the founding members of the German guerilla terrorist group R.A.F., only finds its feet in its last hour. Up until that point, it mostly skims on the surface of the event's leading up to the imprisonment, trial and suicide of key R.A.F. figures like Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu! Swoon!). That kind of cold reportage, assembled with a clear intelligence and a fatal lack of more than a cursorily empathetic presentation of events, is vital to understanding the film's stand-offish view of its subjects but it's also a little too distant for its own good. Thankfully, once these figureheads are under lock and key, the filmmaker's position becomes clear: the revolutionary passion that inspires these kids cannot be separated from their persecution complexes. Their paranoia is presented as a central factor in defining their radical political beliefs. We're shown three or four times over the course of the film how the R.A.F. shot first and got punished for it while other members act shocked, as if das polizei were given orders to shoot on sight. This oversimplified representation of the R.A.F.'s psychology is only so penetrating but it is interesting considering that the philosophy of militant action that it supposedly inspired is equally flat in its logic. Thanks to its procedural plot, the film moves along briskly and is moderately provocative, which is all one can really ask from a middle-brow biopic, even one with such an ambitious scope.

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