The Ninth Day

on May 27, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
The true story of a Catholic priest from Luxembourg who must choose between cooperating with the Nazis or being returned to a concentration camp makes for a curiously uninvolving and emotionless film, considering the life-and-death issues it confronts. Based on a true story, "The Ninth Day" counts down the remaining time of Father Kremer (Ulrich Matthes) as he wrestles with his faith, tries to decide what actions to take and attempts to make contact with his mentor, the local bishop, who has begun to quietly oppose the German occupiers.

Unfortunately, this meaty drama is helmed by German director Volker Schlondorff ("The Handmaid's Tale"), who has a tendency to drown his movies in overly earnest and heavy-handed exposition. So we get a lot of talking, a few debates and, regrettably, a screenplay that lets the Catholic Church off the hook for its failure to adequately oppose Hitler. Static and dull, "The Ninth Day" squanders the potential of its inherently dramatic story. Starring Ulrich Matthes, August Diehl and Bibiana Beglau. Directed by Volker Schlondorff. Written by Eberhard Gorner and Andreas Pfluger. Produced by Juergen Haase. A Kino release. Drama. German- and French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 98 min

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