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Latvia, 1919: the end of the Russian Civil War. An aristocratic young woman (brilliantly played by Margarethe von Trotta) becomes involved with a sexually repressed Prussian soldier. When she is rejected by her love, the young woman is sent into a downward spiral of psychosexual depression, promiscuity, and revolutionary collaboration. A startling tale of heartbreak and violence set against the backdrop of bloody revolution, Volker Schlöndorffs Le Coup de grâce is a powerful film that explores the interrelation of private passion and political commitment.
Passion and politics collide with tragically bleak results in Le Coup de Grace. Dedicating his film to French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) emulates Melville's fascination with themes of war, adapting (with his wife and star, Margarethe von Trotta) the novel Der Fangschuß by Marguerite Yourcenar, set in Latvia in 1919 after the end of World War I. While sporadic fighting continues in the Baltic states, naive countess Sophie (von Trotta) seals her fate by falling in love with Erich (Matthias Habich), a Prussian soldier who secretly desires Sophie's brother (in one of several vaguely handled subplots). She retaliates by supporting the Communists and, when captured, demands that Erich be her executioner. Like the repressed emotions of its characters, the drama's power is nearly subdued by Schlondorff's murky ambiguity; it helps to be familiar with the film's historical context, but Le Coup de Grace is still a worthy companion to Schlöndorff's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, and a hauntingly atmospheric tale of wartime self-destruction. --Jeff Shannon
An excellent drama (in B&W): an intimate depiction of characters caught up in the little known last skirmishes of WWI. Read morePublished on April 26, 2013 by Michael John Brindley
An unusual and thought-provoking movie about the intimate relationships, somewhat complicated by their levels of desire and intellectual emotion, of several characters during World... Read morePublished on March 11, 2009 by Cornelius Gerber
A wonderful tragedy of love and death in a world destroyed by the 1st world war and the russian revolution... Read morePublished on December 14, 2008 by Jose Gorayeb Santos