In pre-war Germany, a well-meaning academic with a dificult personal life finds himself increasingly involved in elements of Nazi policy that have horrendous consequences for humanity.
The Late Cecil Taylor’s brilliant play — originally staged by the RSC in a legendary ’80s production — explores the nature of evil through one man’s moral disintegration. This big-screen adaptation, though, is just another film about guilt and accountability, in which Viggo Mortensen’s ‘good’ German academic slips into complicity in unspeakable crimes against humanity.
The play’s spartan staging and musical elements are diluted on screen, and the tone is erratic — veering from sitcom-like to a surreal concentration camp — despite the strong cast. Nice, though, to see a meaty part for Jason Isaacs, as the Jewish friend whose relationship with Mortensen rings painfully true.
A strong cast and good starting material doesn't manage to save this unsuccessful adaptation.