Throughout most of Fatih Akin’s In the Fade, dreary rain and heavy tears cast a gloomy shadow over the streets of Hamburg, where a senseless act of racially motivated, neo-Nazi-backed terrorism has robbed a loving mother of her family. A ray of sunshine breaks through, however, in the performance of Diane Kruger, whose emotionally wrought, career-best work further elevates an already impeccable meditation on grief, loss, and resilience in the face of senseless violence.
In EW’s exclusive clip from the film (above), Kruger makes a strong case for a well-deserved spot in the race for the best actress Oscar, putting her Cannes Award-winning chops to good use in a scene which sees her Katja, lamenting the loss of her Turkish husband and young son, squaring off against an investigator attempting to cast an even darker shadow over already grim circumstances.
“Terrorism might be the [inciting action] in this movie, but it’s really a universal story about grief, and this problem is a reality that everybody in the world lives with. It could have been jihadists; it could have been a shooter in Las Vegas. In the end, it’s about the people that stay behind, and that’s what’s so touching,” Kruger tells EW of the film, which happens to be the first major German-language production starring the Niedersachsen native. “I had to be really open and naked, emotionally, and the truth is, I don’t know if I could have played this part five years ago.”
Part of that empathy was cultivated through Kruger’s extensive research, during which she met with roughly 30 families of victims who died from unspeakable acts of violence, including terrorist attacks and vicious murders.
“I felt an acute sense of responsibility as the months passed, and I was witnessing what these families were going through, and trying be truthful to what they’d experienced,” Kruger continues. “It changes you as a person, and without wanting to sound like a cliché, a movie like this requires more than just acting: You become that grief, you drown in that grief. I felt like I was drowning, and I still feel this story everyday.”
In the Fade is in theaters on Dec. 27. Watch EW’s exclusive clip above, and check back next week for our full interview with Kruger.