The case is reassigned to a much more competent external investigation unit led by the head detective played by famous Indian actor Irrfan Khan (from The Lunchbox). Although Khan's character easily pokes holes into the original case against the father, he has difficulty finding hard evidence against his suspects due to the ineptitude of the original investigation. He resorts to questionable means including coercion, police brutality and the dodgy use of truth serum which produces confessions from the perpetrators. Just when it seems like Khan will get a conviction, politics, favoritism and corruption come into play and his evidence is questioned due to his dubious tactics. A third task force is assigned to the case and reverts to the initial theory that the parents were responsible for the deaths. Even though there is still no plausible evidence, the parents are convicted and sent to jail where they still are today.
Labyrinth of Lies from last year's TIFF, but from a different perspective. Both films follow the hunt for Nazi war criminals and collaborators, spearheaded by lead prosecutor Fritz Bauer. In Labyrinth of Lies, Bauer was just a peripheral character who assigns the task of chasing Nazis to fictional junior prosecutor Johann Radmann. In The People vs Fritz Bauer, the titular character has the leading role and we find out much more about him that in the previous movie. Being Jewish in a Germany where antisemitism still runs rampant, Bauer is sent threatening hate mail including a bullet wrapped in a swastika flag and is hindered at every turn in his investigation. We also learn that Bauer is gay–a fact that if proven, could undermine his position in the prosecutors' office. This movie focuses on the search for Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolph Eichmann who has been tracked to Argentina. When Bauer and his protegé, another fictional junior prosecutor named Karl Angermann, are unable to get support from their own government to capture Eichmann, Bauer secretly enlists Israel's intelligence service Mossad to complete the mission.
In addition to dealing with each other, both Schneider and Bax have to contend with other characters that interrupt their assignments. Bax insensitively dispatches his girlfriend Nadine to prepare for a visit by his neurotic and depressed daughter Francisca. Things are further complicated by the arrival of his lecherous father Gerard who has designs on Francisca, and the return of spurned Nadine accompanied by her muscular friend Jules. One of the most hilarious scenes occurs when Jules boasts that he could beat up Bax with his thumb alone, to which Bax retorts by cooling shooting off that thumb. Circumstances force Schneider to take on an unwelcome passenger / hostage named Gina, who both hampers and helps him.
Surprisingly for a gangster movie, there is very little on screen violence or bloodshed as much of the fighting happens in the background. Instead the director focuses on character development and the relationships between Mr. Six and his son, girlfriend, friends and even some of his adversaries who eventually come to admire and respect him. In fact, the movie plays more like an old Western where the hero lives by his own set of principles and values honour above all.
Described as "an expertly executed slow-burn thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock's Rear Window", it soon becomes clear that there are cultural differences regarding what constitutes a thriller. There is no suspenseful mood music, no surprise scares and no violence, bloodshed or gore. When the dog played so prominently in the early scenes, I whispered to my seatmate that most likely, that dog was toast! But nothing happens to the dog or anyone else. Instead, the movie plays out more as a character study and a commentary on the "don't get involved" mentality in Romania. So this so-called thriller was not very thrilling but it was still an interesting movie.