Fantasia Festival Review: Free Country

It has become commonplace today for American studios to remake successful films from around the world. As we’re sadly all too aware, it usually doesn’t end well. The list of appalling, dreadful, poor or simply pointless plastic Hollywood ‘re-imaginings’ is as long as your arm. However, there are relatively few European remakes. Christian Alvart’s new film takes the premise of Alberto Rodruiguez’s award-winning Marshland and transport it to a newly reunited Germany. 

The year is 1992, the location is Löwitz. A town near the border with Poland. After the brutal murder of two teenage sisters, a pair of detectives are despatched there to solve the crime.  Markus Bach (Felix Kramer) is a former Stasi enforcer used to employing direct methods. Whilst Patrick Stein (Trystan Pütter), who is from the former West, likes to employ a little more subtlety. Through combining their methods, the duo begins to uncover a dark and deadly secret.

Free Country is an engaging and enthralling crime drama which uses the rural backdrop in order to create an eerie atmosphere. The decision to place the story at a pivotal moment in German history is inspired. It adds a whole new layer to the original idea. Pütter is good but Kramer is an absolute beast. His portrayal of so muscular and brutal. Free Country takes Rafael Cobos and Rodruiguez’s original screenplay and produces a film which is distinct and wholly absorbing.

Free Country screens at Fantasia Festival.

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