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Crime thriller “Until Nightfall” almost turns into a romance

Feature film brings moving reflection on love, manipulation, gender identity and crime

By Eduardo de Assumpção*

“Until Nightfall” (Bis ans Ende der Nacht, Germany, 2023)

Gay police officer Robert (Timocin Ziegler) has to play the role of lover to trans woman Leni (Thea Ehre), recently released from prison. Undercover investigators must break into drug dealer Victor (Michael Sideris). Leni plays the role of opening doors for Robert. Her name was Lennart and she worked for Victor.

The scam may succeed, but only if Robert keeps his emotions under control. Because that’s the difficult thing for him in this mission: he was already in love with Leni, before the transition. And the feelings continue to burn.

In fact, they burn so much that director Christoph Hochhäusler’s crime thriller almost turns into a romance. Were it not for the broken world of false promises, double play and a mask behind which the boundaries between real and pretended feelings are hopelessly blurred.

The cinematography, by Reinhold Vorschneider, always holds surprises, which deliberately transcend the realism of the dark, dirty and harsh environment of the place. They convey a romanticism that also has its place in the pop world of the soundtrack: kitsch, but also somehow seductive in the film’s multiple contrasts.

The setting is Frankfurt, with its contradictions of poverty and glamour, drug hotspots and banking towers. Where the classic crime thriller turns into melodrama, Christoph Hochhäusler seems to connect with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s art of stylization, especially with his film “In a Year of 13 Moons” (1978), in which a trans woman also plays the lead role in a criminal environment.

In particular, the character of police officer Robert seems to be internally trapped. In fact, he can only love Lennart, with Leni he can only surrender with the handbrake on.

Thea Ehre delivers an admirable performance blending vulnerability and inner strength. The Austrian actress and trans activist uses her first major film role to make an intense appearance. Awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Thea Ehre is the powerhouse of this complex police melodrama. In her figure, the loose threads come together again.

With a complex plot, confident editing and atmospherically stunning images, the director manages to create a moving reflection on love, manipulation, gender identity, crime and, above all, interpersonal trust.

*Eduardo de Assumpção is a journalist and responsible for the blog cinematografiaqueer.blogspot.com

Instagram: @cinematografiaqueer

Twitter: @eduardoirib

Source: Maxima

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