Amen. : Movie Review

In attempting to make a thriller out of a historical failure, "Amen" director Costa-Gavras doomed himself to failure, as well.

His movie, about a real-life Nazi SS officer who tried to alert the outside world to the start of the Holocaust, has all the elements and pacing of a conventional political suspense drama. But knowing his efforts were futile turns the movie into a kind of obscene tease.

If you were watching "Amen" on another planet, you'd be on the edge of your seat wondering how Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur) and his fictional ally, Italian priest Riccardo Fontana (Matthieu Kassovitz), will get evidence of the atrocities to the Pope and how many millions of lives will be spared. Instead, the movie builds from its opening scenes toward an inevitable anticlimax, as the conscience-stricken Gerstein and soul-sick Rev. Fontana are thwarted at every turn, until their own lives are buried in the ashes of the Holocaust.

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