The ambitious young lawyer Caspar Leinen (Elyas M’Barek) has taken on his first case as a public defender. Leinen is enthusiastic, perhaps a little overzealous, but also committed and somewhat shocked when his client remains silent. The client is called Fabrizio Collini, comes from a northern Italian village and is said to have executed the factory owner Hans Meyer in a luxury hotel in Berlin.
Collini does not deny that. But why? For a long time, at least from his client, Leinen did not get an answer to this question. To make matters worse is the fact that the murdered man was the lawyer’s foster father. His family demands that he turn down the defense, but that is simply not possible.
“The Collini case”: focus on a judicial scandal of the 1960s
In his research, Leinen comes across fragments of a Nazi past that connects Collini and Meyer – and which affects the entire German post-war jurisprudence. However, a former professor of criminal law advised him not to bring certain things to light.
The pivotal point is the so-called Dreher Act of 1968, through which many crimes during the Nazi era became statute-barred and could no longer be prosecuted. For the director Marco Kreuzpaintner the central aspect in making the film. “From the moment I learned of the enormity that there was a law passed by the Bundestag in Germany that ensured that perpetrators from the Third Reich got away with impunity, I thought to myself: Why does nobody know with us? “, says Kreuzpaintner. “For me that was the moment when I decided: You have to make a film about it!”
Elyas M’Barek convinces in an unusual role
“The Collini case” is more than a solid justice thriller, with some heartbreaking scenes and the Italo-Western legend Franco Nero as Fabrizio Collini, who says maybe 20 sentences, but every look on the furrowed face speaks volumes. To insist against it is not so easy, but Elyas M’Barek as lawyer Leinen does his thing without hesitation. He is believed to have sincere indignation and ethical integrity. The thought that he had chosen the role in order to position himself beyond his comedy popularity as a serious character actor, however, he allegedly did not make. “I didn’t really notice it until I was accused in every interview that I had dared to take the new career step,” he said in 2019 at the cinema premiere. “I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s nice when you all see it that way.”
It is also nice to see how the supporting actors Heiner Lauterbach, Catrin Striebeck and Rainer Bock, as established representatives of German jurisprudence, act brilliantly in their smaller roles and express narrow-mindedness, tolerance and moral dilemma between justice and law-abiding in their faces and gestures. Much is told through flashbacks, mostly dark and dramatic as the topic demands and sometimes maybe a little too drastic.
The Collini case
- Year of production:
- Production country:
- Additional info:
- with Elyas M’Barek, Heiner Lauterbach, Alexandra Maria Lara, Franco Nero and Manfred Zapatka.
- Marco Kreuzpaintner
- 118 min.
- from 6 years