In director Christian Schwochow’s German drama-thriller, Je Suis Karl, a young girl called Maxi Baier, finds herself drawn into a fascist movement after her family become victims of a terrorist attack. In the movie Maxi’s mother and two young brothers are killed in an explosion, leaving Maxi distraught, dealing with grief, and looking for answers.
In her darkest moment, Maxi is befriended by a handsome young man called Karl, who speaks to her about coming to a talk he is hosting, which may offer her some comfort. Karl is the leader of Re/Generation, a movement designed to create change across Europe, and he convinces Maxi that his words will prove useful.
Maxi attends Karl’s talk, where he speaks to young people about problems caused by ineffective governments, and about how his movement hopes to make a significant difference. Although she is very cautious about some of the words and ideologies he uses, Maxi finds herself drawn to Karl and in turn, drawn to Re/Generation.
Over the coming days, Maxi gets in deeper with Re/Generation as the movement becomes more vocal. But is she destined to become a new member, or will she see the signs of fascism before it is too late?
Je Suis Karl stars Luna Wedler, Milan Peschel, Mélanie Fouché, and Jannis Niewöhner. The movie is new to Netflix from today, and if you are after a provocative, contemporary, social drama, then you will want to take a look.
Je Suis Karl focuses its story on the ways in which political beliefs can be expressed and galvanised. It offers a snapshot into the methods that can be used to manipulate vulnerable minds, and how truths can be twisted for the supposed ‘greater good’.
Maxi is at the centre of the story, taking the audience through her indoctrination. Her journey highlights how pain and tragedy can be weaponised, then altered for a specific agenda, and throughout the movie she becomes the ‘every woman’ of the story.
There is an element of naivety to her character, but largely Maxi represents the average person who finds themselves being fed misinformation. In an age where fake news is creating significant divisions and extreme reactions amongst the population, it’s not difficult to see how her story is somewhat reflective of the times we are living in.
Running alongside Maxi’s story is a subplot about how Maxi’s father, Alex, is also dealing with grief, while trying to track down his missing daughter. Since meeting Karl, Maxi has effectively vanished, leaving Alex alone and suffering, and we see this played out in little moments dotted throughout the film.
While Alex’s plotline is not the main focus of the movie, his involvement in the story is just as important as Maxi’s. Alex offers a counterpoint to the events surrounding Maxi and Re/Generation, and his tale is as equally fascinating to follow.
Maxi and Alex’s journeys eventually dovetail during the film’s dramatic conclusion and it is here where the Re/Generation movement shows its true colours. It is also here where the movie makes its feelings very clear about where fascism can ultimately lead, and why we should all be paying attention to what’s going on in the world.
The climax is bold, it is impactful, and for the times we are currently living in, it is very important to show. Although, I suspect the people who need to see this movie the most, and who need to understand why fascism is such a dangerous thing, are the people who won’t give this movie the time of day.
Je Suis Karl is a very engrossing, very emotive movie. It boasts great direction, a number of strong performances, and a hard-hitting, timely message.
The film shines the spotlight on extremism and domestic terrorism. It poses interesting questions about agendas and beliefs, and demonstrates how anyone can be coerced.
I expect this film will get lost on Netflix, becoming a victim to the algorithm, so you may need to seek it out – but do seek this one out. Je Suis Karl is a film which offers a powerful narrative, with the ability to really get under the skin, and is a movie I highly recommend.