“I measure and weigh what interests me.”
Swift shot: Based on the novel Wakolda, written by the film’s director Lucia Puenzo, The German Doctor slowly beats into a terrifying conclusion. Set in 1960 Patagonia, in the German Bariloche region, a reclusive doctor makes the acquaintance of a family rewinding their lives. Loosely based on actual events, as the facts are shrouded by mystery, the story serves as a lesson on trust and lost innocence.
Alex Brendemuhl portrays notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele . . . often referred to as “The Angel of Death.” He is making his way through some treacherous roads and asks to follow a family with a young girl he becomes intrigued with, Lilith. She is very small for her age, feeble really, and he has it in his mind to help her blossom through the miracle of genetics. That would all be wonderful, if he wasn’t a complete monster. Lilith’s mother, Eva (Natalia Oreiro) and father, Enzo (Diego Peretti) are wary at first, but eventually develop separate trusts with the mysterious doctor.
This was Florencia Bado’s first film, and she plays the innocent, yet naively curious, Lilith exceptionally well. You can see her flirting with death, literally, and you aren’t ever quite sure if she knows just how dangerous her careless encounters with the doctor truly are. There is a very disturbing chemistry between the two characters that is hard to describe without seeing. It’s bone chilling.
As Mengele traipses along a web of locally hidden war criminals, he finds a way to seduce each of the main characters. Eva becomes pregnant, with twins, and he offers to help her along. To Lilith, he promises puberty. To Enzo, he even offers a contract making incredibly life like dolls that provide a creepy juxtaposition to the unnatural horrors in the film. Ultimately, Mengele is a spider, shedding his skin . . . for a time, while he tinkers around with another experiment, where Lilith’s family is his zoo.
Nora Eldoc (Elena Roger), one of the teachers at the German school, dances with death. She appears to be on to the doctor and is determined to see him captured by the Israeli intelligence network, Mossad. If you know Mengele’s fate, there are no twists in the story. Because this isn’t a Hollywood film, there are subtitles, and you are required to grasp subtlety and endure a deliberate pulse of panic.
The German Doctor is a story that will disturb you on many levels. While it is not a horror film, the story is horrific, because the events feel all to real. At least one of the characters, and history backs this, doesn’t escape the web of evil. Watch this one with the understanding that it won’t leave your soul anytime soon.