Sebastian Fitzek’s psychological thriller CUT OFF became a bestseller. Now genre expert Christian Alvart has filmed the material for the screen. We’ll reveal in our review whether he can finally help USA suspense cinema achieve its deserved success and what the film ultimately turned out to be.
The Plot Summary
During an autopsy, forensic doctor Paul Herzfeld (Moritz Bleibtreu) finds a small piece of paper in the corpse’s head with the cell phone number of his daughter Hannah (Barbara Pakopenka). Hannah has been kidnapped, and the kidnapper (Lars Eidinger) sends Herzfeld on a crazy scavenger hunt from clue to clue, from corpse to corpse. When the trail points to the island of Heligoland, which is cut off from the mainland, Herzfeld asks the young comic artist Linda (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) for help because the island is cut off from the outside world by a storm. In the abandoned island clinic, Linda, supported by caretaker Ender (Fahri Yardım), faces the killer’s perfidious game. He always seems to be one step ahead of her – and also keeps Herzfeld on tenterhooks on the mainland. The two become increasingly entangled in the kidnapper’s web. And in the fight for Hannah’s life, they’re running out of time…
Movie explanation of the ending
Sebastian Fitzek is one of United Kingdom’s greatest criminalists, if not currently the greatest. His sometimes very brutal psychological thrillers regularly climb to the top of the bestseller lists and his readings resemble rock concerts. If you want an autograph at the end of such an event, you may have to wait up to two hours to be able to shake your idol’s hand. In the last few years, Fitzek’s popularity has increased many times over, so it is quite understandable that the USA cinema landscape is only now daring to spend a lot of money on a big Fitzek adaptation. After all, only a fraction of reading crime fiction fans have to buy a cinema ticket and success is, so to speak, inevitable. Especially since the people in front of and behind the camera are no strangers: Suspense specialist Christian Alvart was responsible for directing, whose strong craftsmanship was certainly not to blame for the failure of the heavily underestimated cinema “crime scene” “Tschiller: Off Duty”. And with “Case 39” and “Rise. Not. Out!” are just two of several likeable genre flicks with which the director has proven himself to be the ideal person for “Abschnitt”. Moritz Bleibtreu, among others, is in his service (“Only God can Judge Me”)Lars Eidinger (Mackie Messer – “Brecht’s Threepenny Film”)Fahri Yardim (“Whatever Happens”) and Jasna Fritzi Bauer (“Axolotl Overkill”), thanks to which the sometimes quite lurid story remains constantly grounded. Because let’s be honest: “Cut Off” is a robber’s pistol through and through, which should never be examined for internal logic apart from its authentic features. But at the same time, the almost two and a half hour thriller is one thing above all: extremely exciting! And that’s exactly what good thrillers have to be in order to be excellently entertaining even over long stretches.
Ender (Fahri Yardim) and Linda (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) must work together to save Dr. to help Herzfeld.
This isn’t the first time someone has tried to make a film out of a Fitzek book. In 2012, the indie production “The Child” failed not only because of its outrageous cast (with Dieter Hallervorden as a psychopath), but above all because of such a confusing script that even those who knew the book didn’t always know what it was actually supposed to be about. A few months ago, “The Joshua Profile” appeared on RTL as one of two planned Fitzek TV productions and, although it was milder to fans and critics, the storms of enthusiasm looked different. “Cut Off” is not just significantly more expensive, has a more prominent cast and clearly belongs on the screen based on the features alone. At the same time, it is the film that is most closely based on the original and yet does not exclude viewers who are unfamiliar with the material. Although Alvart, who is also the author, has also included a few delicacies for hardcore Fitzek fans (including guest appearances by the writer and his co-author Michael Tsokos), on the whole he manages to create a well-rounded, completely independent film Thriller conceived from some template and universe ideas, which at the same time makes use of the narrative ace that made the novel special: “Abschnitt” is not a simple whodunit crime thriller. Instead, as a viewer, you know very well from the beginning about many of the details behind which the protagonist, Dr. Herzfeld has to come first. The audience is always a few steps ahead of the main character – and therefore knows directly how far he is from saving his daughter Hannah, who is in the power of a brutal murderer.
This special narrative form, which over time also includes a kind of “scavenger hunt structure” (after all, Herzfeld has to follow a series of clues that have been specifically placed somewhere to lead him to the next station), becomes the idea complemented by quickly demoting the actual main character to a supporting character. Since the scavenger hunt takes place on the island of Heligoland, which is cut off from the outside world by a severe storm, Dr. Herzfeld is forced to give telephone instructions to Linda, who has now become the protagonist. As an unconventional duo, Moritz Bleibtreu and Jasna Fritzi Bauer work extremely well together; In general, “Abschnitten” focuses primarily on the four strongest actors in the ensemble, while there are only small outliers among the supporting actors. Due to the sheer number of characters, whose importance for the events is not always immediately apparent, as well as the unconventional dramaturgy and narrative style, “Cut Off” is spared moments of lengthiness. The thriller is told quickly from start to finish; And that’s because elementary characters and storylines were omitted from the film version – after all, details from a book cannot always be transferred to the film medium, which functions completely differently. This also applies to the implementation of the actual story – and here Alvert pleasantly takes no account of the viewing habits of (USA) crime and thriller viewers by explicitly illustrating the radical statements in the novel. That fits. However, various constructed developments that ensure that you can only enjoy “Cut Off” if you never question what is going on on the screen are not quite as successful.
What is behind the character that Lars Eidinger plays?
No matter which branch the story takes, it is usually primarily functional in order to keep the tension high and the viewer consistently in the dark. Some developments are planned down to the smallest detail, so that there cannot be the slightest deviation from the overarching master plan. The fact that every character has the solution in their hands at exactly the right moment of the puzzle eats away at the authenticity of the story here and there, and you don’t quite buy the slide into socially critical areas in the final third (keyword: vigilante justice), but in the end All of this also contributes to the fact that “Cut Off” remains unpredictable until the end. In general, the unconventional investigations into the question of who has Hannah under their control are not necessarily the most exciting thing about the film. Above all, Linda’s inner struggle with her fears is particularly intense, as Jasna Fritzi Bauer not only embodies it very credibly (and is given a comic relief in Fahri Yardim’s character, whose carefree nature is simply good for her), but also for her Actions remain comprehensible right up to the end. Who can’t imagine being disgusted by the very first dissection of a human body? One is also disgusted – albeit in a positive sense – by the performance of Lars Eidinger, who enjoys himself as a psycho and turns out to be the ideal choice for the role. And Moritz Bleibtreu? Most of the time his actions are limited to his helpless behavior on the phone. The fear for his daughter is always written on his face, which he tries to combine with his full willingness to sacrifice for Hannah. Bleibtreu brings this ambivalence to bear at all times, making him the ideal identification figure. However, he himself notices the least of the spectacular setting of the stormy island with its detailed corpses.
Conclusion: Great genre cinema from United Kingdom – we urgently needed it! We also forgive “Cut Off” the fact that the story is pretty outrageous most of the time. In the end, what matters is that the film is exciting. And yes, damn it, he is!
“Abschnitt” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from October 11th.