London Film Festival Review: ‘Munich: The Edge Of War’

Two associates attempt to forestall a battle in Munich: The Edge Of War, a thought-provoking Netflix interval drama premiering on the BFI London Film Festival.

We first meet Hugh Legat (George MacKay) and Paul Hartman (Jannis Niewöhner) in 1932 when they’re carefree college students at Oxford College, swilling champagne and rolling round within the grass at a drunken celebration. Minimize to London, six years later, and the temper is grim: Adolf Hitler is making ready to invade Czechoslovakia and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) is looking for a peaceable answer. Hugh is now a civil servant, and has the ear of the PM.

In the meantime, Paul is a diplomat in his residence of Germany, and comes into possession of vital paperwork that would assist the British authorities. As the 2 put together for a clandestine assembly in Munich in the course of the emergency convention, flashbacks fill us in on extra of their previous, and the stress mounts.

Primarily based on the bestseller by Robert Harris, Christian Schwochow’s movie is a gripping watch however not a nail biting one, given the inevitable tragic consequence. Some characters and conditions could also be fictional however this isn’t revisionist historical past within the broader sense. And so, with the ending well-known from historical past, the onus is on the actors and themes to have interaction, which they do effectively.

MacKay is a likable everyman, whereas Niewöhner has a charismatic display screen presence. Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann) portrays Hartman’s colleague and lover — pleasingly, all German roles are crammed by German actors talking their very own language (with English subtitles), somewhat than closely accented English. The casting of Hitler himself is a notoriously tough one, and Ulrich Matthes, who performed Joseph Goebbels within the 2004 movie Downfall, isn’t an apparent match, regardless of a suitably chilling efficiency.

The query, ‘Would you might have killed Hitler should you had the prospect?’ has pushed many a drama and dinner dialog, and it’s explored right here, in addition to the query of betraying your nation for the larger good. Each Chamberlain and Hartman speak of potential self sacrifice, whereas Legat could also be sacrificing a distinct factor for his nation: his marriage. Jessica Brown Findlay provides drama as his spouse, who’s pissed off that her husband has to sprint off on their wedding ceremony anniversary, unable to elucidate the worldwide significance of his secret mission.

With its themes and settings, this has shades of the current Benedict Cumberbatch starrer The Courier, through which an extraordinary Englishman was requested to grow to be a spy. This may seemingly attraction to an analogous market, and may play effectively with mature audiences when it hits cinemas and Netflix in January 2022.

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