Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blind Spot (orig. Doudege Wénkel) [2012]

MPAA (UR - would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing

Blind Spot (orig. Doudege Wénkel) [2012] directed and cowritten by Christophe Wagner along with Jhemp Hoscheid and Frederic Zeimet is a crime thriller from Luxembourg that played recently at Chicago's 16th Annual European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a tiny country (a constitutional monarchy) nestled between Germany, France and Belgium.  Tiny though it is, its history is ancient.  Its royal family stretches its roots back to Charlemagne.  Its all too strategic location between put it on Germany's invasion route of Belgium and France during both World War I and World War II.  American readers/history buffs here will probably most remember Luxembourg for having been the site of much of the fighting during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.  Small, yet strategic, made Luxembourg a founding member of both NATO and the European Union following World War II.

The tininess of Luxemburg repeatedly plays a fascinating subtextual role in this current film.

First, the film is above all a police drama.  Brothers Olivier and Tom Faber (played by Jules Werner and Mickey Hardt respectively) are police officers, cops, in the City of Luxembourg.  As such, their characters speak and most of the film is filmed in the local language Luxembourgish (with English and French subtitles.  Apparently, Luxembourgish is close enough to standard (High) German that there wasn't a need for subtitling into German as well). One simply can't be a "beat cop" or otherwise LOCAL cop without being able to speak the LOCAL language.

Then characters, both foreign and local speak throughout the film in Luxembourgish, French or German (with the occasional English pop-cultural term finding its way into the characters' speech patterns as well).  And the character's language preferences are all significant to the story:  Tom (one of the two brothers) is found dead early in the story.  The Luxembourger investigators put themselves in contact with a crime lab in Hamburg (Germany) to investigate it.  Then a young Belorussian prostitute named Elina (played by Irina Lavrinovic) who was one of the last people to see Tom alive is brought in for questioning and talks to investigators in French.

What would a young attractive Belorussian prostitute be doing in Luxembourg to begin with?  Well, tiny countries like Switzerland (small), Luxembourg (smaller), San Marino/Andorra (still smaller) and Monaco (smallest) need reasons to exist.  In almost all these cases, these small countries have been ("wink, wink") financial and in some cases gambling centers.  And Luxembourg is, indeed, a banking center, and the seat of various finance related institutions of the European Union, including the European Investment Bank.  Where these is money, there's fertile ground for corruption (and crime thrillers ... ;-).  So Tom's contact with this prostitute serves as only the tip of a proverbial iceberg that involves all kinds of characters, both Luxembourger native and foreign, that have (and have had) reasons to come to, stay and leave this little largely city-state of Luxembourg

However, the story is not simply about financial or linguistic intrigue.  At its core, it's about two brothers.  And actually Tom, who was found dead near the beginning of the story, had been considered by all to be the "better" of the two.  He had been the stellar cop while Olivier had been the volatile screw-up.   Tom had had a nice stable family including two small children.  In contrast, Olivier's wife was leaving him and they were childless.  Imagine therefore the internal conflict that Olivier would have faced after finding out that his "perfect brother" had spent a good part of his last hours with a young Beolorussian prostitute.  And yet, Tom was his brother, who had two young children and Tom and Olivier had a mother who had simply adored Tom ... What to say / do? 

So it all actually makes for a rather compelling (and supremely contemporary European) crime thriller (with all those languages and much intrigue).  I'm honestly glad to have seen it, and feel that I've learned something about Luxembourg that previously I knew little about as a result.  Good job!

 << NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >> 


  1. Father, I obviously haven't seen this film. You are fortunate to live and work in a major city where these artsy and sometimes esoteric pieces play. Your review intrigues me, and I'm putting this film on my watch list.

    One of the best "brother" movies I've ever seen was True Confessions with Robert De Niro, as a powerful Msgr. in large city parish, and his brother portrayed by Robert Duvall as a corrupt police detective in the same locale. By now this is an old film, being released in 1981. What first appears to be a sordid murder mystery turns out to be a story of one brother's salvation. But, guess which one. True Confessions served up a cast of filmdom's greatest actors from the last generation, but it was a disappointment to many because it seemed to veer away from its initial focus. Few would understand its powerful message. I will never forget Burgess Meredith as the crusty and old confessor priest as this film's Greek chorus calling us to repent and to wash our hands of the worldly concerns that keep us from Salvation.

    Thank you for reminding me of something very special.

  2. Hi Dr. George! Thanks for your nice comment and support. I would be willing to bet that this movie is going to show-up in DVD in Europe soon. Both Superclasico, and Alois Nebel reviewed below are both available now at But both of those were released in 2011 and this movie was released in 2012 (so it probably has a few more festivals to pass through before it makes it to DVD). As for the "brothers theme," yup, it's a pretty common theme though it certainly lends itself to all kinds of variations. Thanks again for your comment and God bless!

  3. Hello verybody. I'm the director of "Blind Spot" and just found your review on the internet. Thanks for talking about my movie and I keep you informed when the dvd commes out ( around Septembre). Chheers!

    Christophe Wagner

    1. Hi Christophe Wagner! That would be great! Let us know when your film comes out on DVD.

      Along similar lines, I was wondering if the film-makers' union in the EU would consider developing an online European cinema clearing house that would make _all_ or most of the EU's nations' _recent_ films (1-2 years after their initial release) available for streaming for a nominal price along the lines of what is available here in the U.S. via Amazon Instant Video or Itunes (but basically _not_ wait for Amazon/Apple to graciously decide to offer European videos on their service).

      I'm writing this because ALMOST ALL OF THE FILMS shown at the Gene Siskel Center's European Union Film Festival were EXCELLENT and yet ALMOST NONE OF THEM will be available for American viewers to ever see. Amazon or Apple may say "well there's no market for them." BULL. There's no market for them because NOBODY HAS ACCESS TO THEM HERE.

      A European online platform promoting European films could become a real help to European film makers!