By Ray Bennett
BERLIN – Thomas Arsian’s “In the Shadows” aims to be a character study of a certain kind of man who will do anything to achieve independence including armed robbery and murder, but the result is ponderous and unexciting.
Misel Maticevic plays a man fresh out of jail who first seeks his share of the heist for which he was imprisoned and then a target for a high-paying robbery. Maticevic looks the part but Arsian’s screenplay and direction let him down with filmmaking that is flat-out dull. The film is not likely to make much of a mark beyond its home territory.
The man’s name is Trojan, which sounds better in German (Troy-ahn), and he’s the cool, handsome and silent type who just wants his money. Not only does his old partner stiff him on his cut, he also sends two hoodlums to eliminate Trojan.
Meanwhile, Nora, a blonde lawyer and sometime lover (Karoline Eichhorn), knows of a money transport van that can be knocked over so Trojan gets a retired crook (Rainer Bock) to join him in the raid.
But a corrupt cop named Meyer (Uwe Bohm) is on his trail from the get-go and it’s just a matter of time before the cheat’s hoods, the cop, and Trojan have fateful encounters.
It’s a traditional framework for a noir picture but being detached should not mean being pedestrian and this particular criminal isn’t half as smart as he needs to be for a film like this.
The cinematography is also flat and music appears to be an afterthought as it is dropped in at the occasional moment when tension is needed but is not established by the visuals.
Venue: Berlin International Film Festival; Production company: Schramm Film; Cast: Misel Maticevic, Karoline Eichhorn, Uwe Bohm, Rainer Bock; Director, screenwriter: Thomas Arsian; Producers: Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber; Director of photography: Reinhold Vorschneider; Production designer: Reinhild Blaschke; Music: Geir Jenssen; Costume designer: Anette Guther; Editor: Bettina Blickwede; No rating, 85 minutes.
This review appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.