Je Suis Karl, a German thriller starring Luna Wedler, Jannis Niewöhner, Milan Peschel, Elizaveta Maximova, Marlon Boess, Veronika Bellova and Aziz Dyab is now available on Netflix. Directed by Christian Schwochow, Thomas Wendrich wrote the film’s screenplay, premiered at the 71st Berlin Internation Film Festival.
The synopsis reads – After most of her family is murdered in a terrorist bombing, a young woman is unknowingly lured into joining the very group that killed them.
Netflix’s Je suis Karl Review Contains Mild Spoilers
The opening scenes show us a couple, Alex (Milan Peschel) and Ines (Melanie Fouche), helping a refugee named Yusuf and taking him to Berlin. Writer Thomas Wendrich and director Christian Schwochow give us an idea that the couple sympathises with the refugees, no matter their religion. A few minutes into the film, an explosion in Alex’s building kills his wife Ines, his two young sons and 7 other residents.
Alex and his daughter Maxi (Luna Wedler) are safe as they weren’t inside the building at that time. The chilling beginning holds your attention as you want to know what’s going to happen next. Both Alex and Maxi are dealing with the trauma of loss in their own ways. One day, Maxi meets Karl (Jannis Niewöhner), a handsome stranger who tells her to join his academy. As her relationship with Alex sours, she joins Karl without informing her father.
As the narrative progresses, we find out that Karl and his ‘rebellious’ group run the ‘Re/Generation Europe’ movement. They aim to take control of Europe, have power in their hands as they are the future. Sadly, behind those loud and bold speeches, powerful songs and bizarre public events, Karl is nothing but a young face promoting fascist ideology, which Maxi is unaware of. She unknowingly joins a movement whose ideologies her parents were against! So what will Alex do when he finds out what his daughter has got into? The film doesn’t bother to answer it well.
The first 45 minutes of Je Suis Karl are gripping and makes a lot of sense. But the moment the narrative shifts to Re/Generation Europe part, it becomes weak and messy. Thomas Wendrich could’ve shown us the modern neo-nazi part without adding too much drama, love plot and exaggerated music concerts. At one point, I stopped bothering about Maxi-Alex and their loss because the makers kept the focus only on Karl and his activities. To be honest, he was a chatterbox with good looks, proud of his fascist ideologies. So I didn’t pay much heed to him too.
Christian Schwochow said in an interview that even though Je Suis Karl Netflix is a work of fiction, he has researched real stories to present it the way it is to the audience. He said, “After we made NSU, we realised that there was more material, and that there is a shift in the far-right movement, especially among young people. They’re no longer skinheads, who of course do still exist; there is a new group of young fascists, and they are on the rise, getting bigger everywhere in Europe.”
Je Suis Karl Review: Final Thoughts
It took them 5-6 years to make the story right, yet it fails to leave an impression. The last 30 minutes make no sense and lead us to a chaotic ending.
Je Suis Karl is now streaming on Netflix.