MRR Review: "The German Doctor"

Photo Credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Rating: PG-13
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: April 25, 2014
Directed by: Lucia Puenzo
Genre: Drama / History / Thriller

For those viewers looking a for a historic film about the possibility of what happened following World War II, "The German Doctor" fits the bill. Originally called "Wakolda," this movie is based on a book by the same name that was also written by the director. "The German Doctor" is a movie about deception. The main character is played by Àlex Brendemühl, and his role is that of a man in hiding. While he goes by the name of Helmut Gregor throughout the film, as the movie progresses, movie goers see hints and gain valuable information that lead to the conclusion that Helmut is actually the Angel of Death himself, Josef Mengele.

The versatility of Àlex Brendemühl is truly enamoring. At the beginning of "The German Doctor," he presents his character as a friendly gentleman that is very well-kept and thoughtfully dressed for a clean appearance. At the beginning on the film, viewers see him watching over Lilith, the youngest daughter of Eva and Enzo, as she plays. This is kind of creepy, but he is so well presented that movie goers do not think much of it. Once he introduces himself to the family and becomes a guest of their home, his true colors begin to show.

Àlex Brendemühl perfectly captures the facial expressions, mannerisms and actions that must accompany a role such as this. At times, viewers can actually see the evilness in his eyes.

One of the most notable things about "The German Doctor" is the fact that the film offers a unique perspective. The story unfolds from Lilith's point of view, and since she is a pubescent girl, seeing her outlook on the situation makes the film extremely interesting. Viewers watch as the young girl's love for him unfolds, though it is obvious that her affections are accompanied by a fear of sorts. While movie goers see that she trusts him and believes the things Helmut says, she is also jumpy around him, and it is very obvious that he makes her nervous during certain scenes within the film. Besides Mengele's obvious fascination with the small-for-her-age girl, Lilith, he has another subject that captures his focus, Eva.

After moving in with the family, Helmut begins following Eva's pregnancy. He learns that she is pregnant with twins, and this is fascinating to him. As he listens to the babies' heartbeats, monitors her pregnancy and keeps a close journal of all medical interactions with the family, the father, Enzo, becomes quite suspicious of Helmut's actions. However, Enzo is not the only person who is questioning this strange man that just appeared in the quiet South American town.

A photographer named Nina notices many similarities between "Helmut" and Dr. Josef Mengele. She begins detective work to expose the man for who is truly is, the Angel of Death.

Throughout this history-based film, viewers get a taste of detective work themselves. There are many subtle hints and clues as "The German Doctor" progresses, which if the viewers are really paying attention, it is possibly to learn the doctor's true identity before the characters of the movie catch on. The action in the movie is not showy, but certain scenes within the film leave movie goers' hearts racing.

"The German Doctor" is directed in a thoughtful manner that includes enough thrill to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, though the most thrilling part about the movie is the stark reality that there are real-life monsters hiding in plain sight. The film's actors and actresses all work together to give a realistic feeling to this storyline. The somber nature of the film is perfectly portrayed, and each character is ideally embodied. Throughout "The German Doctor," all of the actions, facial expressions and nonverbal cues are spot-on to make each scene appear seamless. Never is the acting forced or unbelievable, which provides a positive viewing experience for movie goers.

While "The German Doctor" provides a fictional look at history, it works to bring awareness to the fact that after World War II, the Nazis hid in plain sight in South America, specifically the country of Argentina. The carefully coordinated action leaves viewers with an almost-constant sense of unease. While this sounds unpleasant, it is the opposite. The sense of suspense achieved by "The German Doctor" leaves movie goers wondering what is coming next, what clues are left to unfold and what will happen when the family actually discovers the true identity of the man they let into their home. By the end of the movie, viewers learn that every man has his secrets.