The value of Rhidian Brook’s novel, from which this film is adapted, is the ground-zero view of firebombed post-World War II Hamburg by its surviving Germans—from starving street urchins, to middle-class adults who were not Nazi party members but who suffer all the burdens and humiliations of defeat nonetheless, to hostile teenagers who still revere Hitler and plot terrorist attacks against the Allied occupying forces. As one of the screenwriters, Brook presumably signed off on the massive changes made from his original work, but in so doing, he squandered the opportunity for a more nuanced film. After all the gutting of the book’s supporting characters and backstories, what’s left is a tastefully decorous love triangle between an English army commissioner in charge of rebuilding Germany in the UK zone (Jason Clarke); his emotionally damaged wife (Keira Knightley), still mourning the death of their son during a German bombing; and the widowed German architect (Alexander Skarsgård) whose stately home the victors requisition, but whom the British “guv’nor” magnanimously invites to stay on, since there’s way too much room there for just him and the missus. Knightley’s character is—hello!—more sympathetic and sensual than in the novel, while Clarke’s is more one-dimensional, to the point of caricature. Only Skarsgård is persuasive as a bereft man trying to make the best of his diminished circumstances, who against all reason finds himself falling for the officer’s wife. The production design is superb; unsurprisingly, the film spends as little time among the ruins as possible, lingering instead on the luscious moderne interiors of the architect’s mansion on the Elbe. James Kent (Testament of Youth) directed.