German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, who enjoyed his biggest success with the Third Reich drama Downfall (2004), hauls out the jackboots again for this absorbing biopic of Georg Elser, the carpenter who tried to assassinate Hitler and other top Nazis with a time bomb set to explode during the Fuhrer’s speech at a Munich beer hall in 1939. Apprehended by the Gestapo, Elser was interrogated and tortured for five days before signing a full confession; screenwriters Fred and Léonie-Claire Breinersdorfer use this crucible as a frame for serial flashbacks that show the hero (Christian Friedel) plotting the attack—which killed nine people but none of its targets—and, more happily, extricating a sexy fraulein (Katharina Schüttler) from her marriage to a violently abusive farmer. Conspiracy theories surrounded the Elser plot for years, and his political motives have been debated; as scripted here, he acted alone and purely from moral conviction, which Friedel conveys in a passionate, charismatic performance. In German with subtitles.
R • 1 hour 54 min • 2015