Tim Reidy, our online editor, is also an inveterate moviegoer and savvy critic. Here's his take on "The White Ribbon," as part of our online Culture section. The critically acclaimed film, which has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is a mediation on guilt, sin and evil in Germany--but not during the period that you might think. Here's Reidy's lede:
Can a film be an exercise in theodicy? Of course few films wrestle with the question of evil in ways that are genuinely satisfying. The Hollywood imperative to portray villains as perverted and inhuman leaves little room for psychological exploration. And the obligation to hunt down wrongdoers by film’s end often gives the false impression that evil is easily contained.
David Fincher’s “Zodiac” is one film that successfully delves into the mysteries of evil without offering easy consolation at the end. (The Zodiac killer, after all, is never caught.) “The White Ribbon,” the new film from writer/director Michael Haneke, is another. But whereas Fincher’s work takes place in 1970s San Francisco, Haneke sets his story in a small German village on the eve of World War I. And he is less interested in the evil in one man’s soul than an evil that can engulf a nation.