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The Vise of Munich: criticism taken in the pincer on Netflix – ScreenLarge.com

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STATE LIES

Late September 1938. With Europe on the brink of war, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) travels to Munich to meet Adolf Hitler (Ulrich Matthes) at what is dubbed the “conference of the last chance”.

Two men accompany them on their journey : Hugh Legat (George MacKay), a civil servant at the Foreign Office became Chamberlain’s private secretary, and Paul von Hartmann (Jannis Niewöhner), a German diplomat involved in a plot to overthrow Hitler (historically known as “the Oster conspiracy”).

Have you read the Large Screen review, my dear?

like the novel Munich by Robert Harris from which it is taken, the film directed by Christian Schwochow revisits this historical episode from another point of view, through two fictional characters created by the author. Two old friends from Oxford who will work together to prevent Chamberlain from signing the famous agreements by revealing Hitler’s plans for conquest concerning his “living space”. Sadly, The Vise of Munich never manages to reconcile history with that of its two heroes, torn between two ambitions.

Even if it spends a long time introducing its characters, its historical context and it takes advantage of a duration of more than two hours, the screenplay written by Ben Powers is too rushed, too confusing to be accessible or poignant. Faced with the density of its subject, the film borrows a whole bunch of simplistic shortcuts, which prevents you from grasping the complex geopolitical issues that arise from it or from simply believing what is shown on the screen, like when Chamberlain confides in a Legat whose existence he has almost just discovered or when Paul discusses a coup in a crowded German bar.

The Vice of Munich: photo, Jeremy IronsCome on, in two hours, it’s folded

Paradoxically, the film is too long for spy thriller that he would like to be and too short to be able to deepen the historical drama and human that he develops with his characters, fictitious and real. An imbalance between fiction and reality that is generally found in the rhythm and the narration, but also visually. Christian Schwochow is unable to convey what is being played out in the corridors of the Führerbau within those few hours.

On the one hand, its flat staging and the cold photography of Frank Lamm agree with the serious and threatening atmosphere in which the characters evolve; on the other, he wants to generate nervousness and immerse the viewer through a handheld camera that inexplicably gets carried away and frantic editing by Jens Klüber (especially when the dialogues involve more than two characters).

The Vice of Munich: photo, Jannis NiewöhnerYou’re talking to me ?

DANGEROUS GAMES

Unlike other films of the genre, like Jackal directed by Fred Zinnemann, the dramatic tension of The Vise of Munich is non-existent since the agreements will be signed and the dreaded World War II will end up breaking out anyway.

The suspense is well maintained thanks to various means, such as this former friend of Paul who has become a distrustful bodyguard of Hitler (embodied by an August Diehl as chilling as in Inglourious Basterds) and the film can rest on its impressive cast, its neat artistic direction and its advanced realism (the conference was filmed in the same building where it took place in 1938) to captivate until the end, but the end is already written.

The Vice of Munich: photo, Jannis NiewöhnerDo you want to play cards with me?

As soon as the action moves to Munich and the game of fools starts between Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier (Stéphane Boucher) and Mussolini (Domenico Fortunato), Hugh and Paul are forgotten, reduced to the status of secondary characters whose fate is already sealed, while the lost friendship between the Englishman and the German and their desperate attempt to prevent war carried all the script and emotional stakes.

When they are not caricatures, the female characters are only serve the interests of the scenario (therefore of the Crown) and instead of dwelling on Hugh’s family life, Paul’s ideological reversal or his relationship with Helen Winter (Sandra Hüller), the film focuses on Adolf Hitler, interpreted as a disturbed by a too old Ulrich Matthes (who made a better Goebbels in The fall), corn above all paints a revisionist portrait of Neville Chamberlain.

The Vice of Munich: photo, Jeremy IronsPeace for a small piece of paper

As in Robert Harris’s novel, the British Prime Minister is not presented as a coward who sacrificed Czechoslovakia with his policy of appeasement in the name of a temporary peace, but almost as a martyr who would have voluntarily staked his reputation to prove that Hitler was lying. Jeremy Irons’ brilliant performance elicits a certain sympathy for the character, portrayed as an outdated, weary man who desperately clings to his lofty pacifist ideals.

However, while historical facts have shown that the Munich Accords only delayed the inevitable and that so dearly negotiated peace did not even last a year, as he recalls, the film justifies itself just then. explaining that Chamberlain’s gesture would have allowed France and the United Kingdom to prepare for the coming conflict. A clumsy excuse released in a tiny text in the middle of an end montage, which only exposes a little more the simplism, even the stupidity, with which it was written.

The Vise of Munich is available from January 21 on Netflix

official poster

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