'Scholl' Breaks Old Ground With Nazi Horror Story

    Sophie Scholl has a lot going for her: She’s cute, young, German and battling a Nazi government at every turn. What’s not to like? Maybe it’s the movie itself that’s not so becoming. “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” lurches forward with radical thought from the Nazi era, including a few obligatory jabs at America, but it doesn’t quite shake up the system ­— theirs or ours.

    Beginning in a race against time like an action movie — minus the fun — Scholl (Julia Jentsch) and her friends work fast to print pamphlets to distribute at the local university. This cause is urgent, since, you know, this is that bleak period in German history called the Third Reich, and Scholl is part of an underground movement known as the White Rose. They don’t like Nazis very much — mainly because of censorship — but maybe also the regime’s murderous tactics.

    This day is not such a good one for Scholl and her brother, who is also part of the White Rose. They are caught red-handed and shipped off to prison, where Scholl and her brother are separated and vigorously questioned about their radical beliefs. The rest of “Final Days” goes something like this: War bad! Justice good! Suffering intolerable! Nazis bad!!!

    Director Marc Rothemund stages the film like a standoff between Nazi pigs and the righteous Scholl. She spends days facing interrogation in one of those damp, gray questioning rooms you see in movies all the time. Words are tossed back and forth about precious life and fascist governments and the Fuhrer. Is it really time for another Nazi wankfest?

    “Final Days” is plainly too polished. It is full of nice, morose lighting to emphasize her sorrow, and a galloping score to predicate her spirit. Is this a movie about Nazi injustice or what? The content is at least new: We don’t often hear about the true story of this fallen heroine of war-torn Germany, and Jentsch does a more than admirable job in the role. But please, no more Nazi films for a long while.

    Yes, there is some insight in this long-winded talk-fest about all the dos and don’ts of immoral Nazi warfare, and every now and then a lesson is learned as it pokes its head up from underneath the laborious dialogue. But shouldn’t film be about real experiences instead of rhetoric?

    The Germans may have imprisoned and killed Scholl, but her rebellious words still live on in this movie — that is, if they don’t bore you to death in the meantime.

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