Karl Markovics (right) delivers a great minimalist performance in The Counterfeiters.
The Counterfeiters (Sony, 2007) D: Stefan Ruzowitzky, w/ Karl Markovics, August Diehl. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNN
On the eve of World War II, career criminal Sally Sorowitsch is busted for forgery in Berlin. He's shifted from prison to a concentration camp and thence into a special unit of Jewish prisoners tasked by the Nazis with forging undetectable passports, ID papers and British currency - £135 million worth by war's end.
Sally befriends Adolf Burger, a young idealist determined to sabotage the Nazi effort. Sally, pure pragmatist, will do whatever it takes to survive. The tension between them fuels a powerful drama and a thematic exploration of moral choices that emerges naturally from the action and never slows it down.
The story is true. Adolf Burger lived to write about it, and he's present in the extras, as he was in the scriptwriting. But it's Sally, not Adolf, who's the protagonist here. That choice eliminates any taint of sanctimony and adds an edge to an already tight script. The visual style is strong, and the focus on Sally keeps everything intimate and immediate.
Karl Markovics gives a great minimalist performance as Sally and discusses his commitment to less-is-more acting in his segment of a smart and informative extras package.
EXTRAS Director commentary; making-of doc; director, actor, writer interviews; director Q&A; Adolf Burger artifacts. Widescreen. German, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.