The malleability of truth and our propensity to believe what we need to believe is at the heart of this compact and engrossing Cold War drama, adapted from Swiss writer Walter Diggelmann's 1962 fact-based bestseller The Interrogation of Harry Wind.
Set in Zurich in 1957, it pits the prolific German warhorse Brandauer against Koch (The Lives of Others) to great effect. The former plays Urs Rappold, a counter-espionage officer, who is tipped off that a prominent radio journalist has been passing secrets to the Russians. But he begins to suspect the reliability of the information, which was given to him by Harry Wind (Koch), a PR maestro with an impeccable record as an anti-communist patriot. Unearthing evidence implicating Wind himself, Rappold, over the strenuous objections of his superiors, arrests him.
What starts as a routine battle of wits between an agent of the state and a suspect who is plainly smarter than his interrogator soon turns into something both more interesting and menacing. Wind, who describes what he does for a living as "trying stuff out" seems to be trying something on. And, as the story slowly comes into focus, we are never quite sure who is deceiving whom. Anything, the film reminds us, can be manipulated -- especially the truth.
It's an intelligent and well-acted cat-and-mouse thriller that shines a light on a little-known period of Swiss history.
Klaus Maria Brandauer, Sebastian Koch
M, in German with English subtitles
Intelligent and well-acted cat-and-mouse thriller