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Labyrinth of Lies 

Wednesday, Oct 7 2015
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A pox upon whatever arcane rules have resulted in Giulio Ricciarelli'sLabyrinth of Liesbeing Germany's entry into the Academy Awards rather than Christian Petzold's thematically similar but far superiorPhoenix. In Ricciarelli's film, a young public prosecutor named Johann (Alexander Fehling) in 1950s Germany begins exploring his country's actions during World War II, particularly a mysterious place called "Auschwitz." Most of his fellow citizens haven't heard of it, and those who have either won't talk about it or brush it off as a detention camp no different than those in Russia or America. Labyrinth becomes a legal thriller as Johann becomes obsessed with tracking down and prosecuting former SS officers, especially Josef Mengele, leading up to the real-life Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in 1963. We know fromThe Boys From Brazilthat Johann will not catch Mengele, butLabyrinth of Liesis fascinating enough in its procedural aspect — including many scenes in the American-run SS records rooms — even as it meanders in its third act.Its big misstep is a subplot involving bullet-breasted bohemian Marlene (Friederike Becht), whose main plot utility is to give the tightly wound Johann a big case of the Not-Gays, since his true passion is justice. But inLabyrinth of Liesas in reality, justice is a fickle lover.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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