The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - THE COLLINI CASE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - THE COLLINI CASE

the collini case review
A novice lawyer is tasked with defending the man who murdered his father figure.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Marco Kreuzpaintner

Starring: Elyas M'Barek, Franco Nero, Manfred Zapatka, Alexandra Maria Lara

the collini case poster

Director Marco Kreuzpaintner's German legal drama The Collini Case is a throwback to the John Grisham adaptations of the 1990s. Those movies usually featured an attractive young lead thrust into the world of the courtroom, losing their innocence and naivete along the way. And that's exactly what we get here.

Our handsome but wet behind the ears protagonist here is Caspar Leinen (Elyas M'Barek), a rookie lawyer who somewhat inexplicably lands a ridiculously high profile case for his first ever courtroom gig. He's tasked with defending Fabrizio Collini (Franco Nero), an elderly Italian man who walked into a hotel and murdered well-known German tycoon Hans Meyer (Manfred Zapatka).

the collini case review

The complications of the case are twofold for Caspar. Firstly, Fabrizio refuses to talk. Secondly, the murdered man was a beloved father figure for Caspar, having raised him as though he were his own son and paying to send him to law school. Much to the chagrin of Meyer's granddaughter Johanna (Alexandra Maria Lara), who was once romantically involved with Caspar, the rookie lawyer puts aside his personal feelings and commits to defending his client.

What follows is a rather routine procedural occasionally enlivened by an examination of Germany's past. Nazi war crimes rear their ugly head as Caspar learns that his father figure wasn't the angelic presence he knew him as.

the collini case review

With his Clooney looks and innocent charm, M'Barek makes for an affable leading man, but his character is one-dimensional. None of the various revelations he uncovers regarding the Mayer family seem to disturb him as much as they should. Through several flashbacks we learn of his attachment to the murdered man, yet when he learns of his wartime past he doesn't flinch for a second in doubling down on defending Fabrizio. His unconvincing relationship with Johanna seems shoe-horned into the narrative for the sake of some cheap sexual tension. She too seems largely devoid of any real personality. Similarly unconvincing is Caspar's relationship with his real father, whom he enlists to help out with the case - it's a subplot that the screenplay seems to have forgotten about.

The Collini Case is adapted from a novel by Germany's own John Grisham, lawyer turned author Ferdinand von Schirach. His own grandfather was sentenced to 20 years at Nuremberg for his involvement with the Hitler youth while his grandmother was one of Hitler's secretaries. It's clear that his novel is inspired by his own reckoning with his family's dark past, so it's a shame the screen adaptation never leans into this aspect.

the collini case review

For all its cardboard characters and clichéd courtroom manoeuvres, The Collini Case's two hours flew by. Maybe I'm nostalgic for when Hollywood made movies with such adult themes, but I was never not invested in its narrative, even if I struggled to swallow most of its characters.

I was particularly impressed with how Caspar devises a clever trick to get a ride home and a pizza delivered in a single transaction, but I'm not sure that's quite the insight Kreuzpaintner wants me to take away from his film.

The Collini Case
 is in UK cinemas from September 10th and VOD from October 11th.

2021 movie reviews