If Not Us, Who? Review

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Germany, 1961. Firebrand Bernward Vesperis (Diehl) sets to work rehabilitating the reputation of his father, a long-forgotten novelist, by publishing celebratory pieces about his work. To help, he enlists radical Gudrun Ensslin (Lauzemis). The pair fall into bed and from there into the arms of the Baader Meinhof terrorist cell.


Dovetailing neatly with the Baader Meinhof Complex, this tackles the same slice of German history from the viewpoints of the radicals who didn’t get to be brand-name terrorists: Gudrud Ensslin (Lena Lauzemis), the most hardcore of the B-M bande, and sometime partner Bernward Vesper (August Diehl), who tried to assuage his father’s Nazi associations by forming a radical publishing house. Director/co-writer Andres Veiel pursues the thesis that these leftist Germans went to extremes not merely in reaction to the rise of right-wing authoritarianism in the West, but from great shame at the failings of their parents during the Third Reich. Very well acted, this is a gripping character study-cum-history lesson.

If you already own The Baader Meinhof Complex and you're looking for the other half of the definitive Red Army Faction double-bill, here it is. Even f you're not, there's still plenty of quality here to grip your attention.