The German Doctor Screen 5 articles

The German Doctor


The German Doctor Poster
  • Puenza paints Mengele as somewhere between subtle psychopath and historical monster, yet he is ultimately relegated to a far more one-note characterization. Wakolda has a flair for dramatic cinematography, best seen in the film’s final reel where a seaplane takes off into the dimly lit sky.

  • It's unsettling to watch this pathologically self-assured sociopath worm his way into the heart of a sensitive girl and her family. The magnificent, sparsely populated settings underscore the family's vulnerability, particularly in the beginning, when the doctor's sedan glides behind their truck on an otherwise deserted highway. But the fictional story is too neatly predetermined to feel truly creepy. Much more unnerving is the nonfictional backdrop against which the fictional story unfolds.

  • Some measure of suspense about who this creepy physician might be is all The German Doctor has going for it, since it explores a period of Mengele’s life notable primarily for its uneventfulness. Puenzo has invented a story involving a Patagonian family with whom Mengele becomes entwined, but onscreen, at least, it comes across as little more than a tacky, surprisingly humdrum what-if? scenario.

  • Bado is a compelling and at times magnetic presence, and the film misses her whenever she’s offscreen. Her Lilith inhabits her physicality unselfconsciously, and without a trace of preciousness. When she falls from a tree, she thinks nothing of her banged-up knees, as if they don’t really belong to her. And it’s just as well, because under the circumstances they don’t: even at 12 her body has already become someone else’s battleground.

  • Working from her own novel, also titled “Wakolda,” Ms. Puenzo — who was last at Cannes with the coming-of-age story “XXY” — creates an eerie world of family secrets and state lies that grows increasingly scary when it emerges that a friendly stranger may be Josef Mengele.

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