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101 minutes · 2013
This 1988 biopic chronicling the last decade of German novelist Hans Fallada (Little Man, What Now?) falls prey to the chief difficulty of most movies about writers: how to render their imaginative life onscreen. As a result (and despite a galvanic performance from Jorg Gudzuhn in the title role) Fallada comes off here as a little man himself—petulant, ill-tempered, and cruel to his wife and children. Writer-director Roland Graf focuses on the most politically fraught period of Fallada's life, after he made the fateful decision to remain in Nazi Germany and was buffeted this way and that by the popular confusion over whether his work supported or subverted the Reich. His last project was an autobiographical novel that he managed to preserve only by writing it between the lines of an anti-Semitic book he was concocting to mollify Joseph Goebbels; unfortunately, one gets the sense that much of this movie is happening between the lines as well. In German with subtitles.

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