We’ve grown so accustomed to watching creep-fests–Hannibal, The Following and, most recently, True Detective–portray the most gruesome acts to humans and the human body in stunningly artful forms, we forget that atrocities happen in real life to real human beings and they are not so prettily done. “The German Doctor” forces us to remember.
Produced, written and directed by Lucía Puenzo, based on her novel, Wakolda, “The German Doctor” focuses on the Nazis who took refuge in Argentina after WWII, some of whom continued their horrific practices of experimenting on humans in order to “create the perfect race.” “The German Doctor” is part history, part mystery and most especially, completely compelling.
Set in 1960s Argentina, “The German Doctor” first presents us with Lilith (Florencia Bado), a young girl playing outdoors, unaware that she’s being watched by a man (Àlex Brendemühl). They strike up a conversation over her doll and she reveals that although she’s very short, she’s actually 12. One gets a weird feeling about him and wonders if his interest in her is sexual, but that proves not to be the case. He next encounters Lilith’s entire family in a “chance” meeting as the family is getting ready to move out-of-town. Lilith’s mother, Eva (Natalia Oreiro), has inherited her parents’ hotel in the mountains and they are moving in order to take over its management. Introducing himself as a doctor, he tells the family he is heading in the same direction as them, but since he is unfamiliar with the country-side, asks if he can follow them. Lilith’s father, Enzo (Diego Peretti), seems a bit wary, but he agrees and as they make their way there is some bonding during some tough driving conditions. It turns out that the doctor is staying practically next door to the family and, thus, he is gradually and easily able to insinuate himself into their lives as someone they all come to trust, especially Lilith and Eva.
But is their trust misplaced? Just who is this mysterious doctor? “The German Doctor” proves that people can have suspicious feelings, but somehow their desire to see the best in others can outweigh their good sense to see what is right in front of them.
Selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, “The German Doctor” is terrifically acted and will have you thinking long after the credits have rolled. It is well worth seeking out.