A black tree on the Rhine stretches its burnt branches against the blue sky. A woman was tied to him at night. With cellophane. She hung there for an hour and a half. She knew what would happen to her. She knew how much time she had. Then the timer went off. And the connected gas tank up. Tree and woman burned like heaps of brushwood and witches in the Middle Ages.
The new "Tatort" season begins with a beacon. And with the blatant announcement to the Kampfschlesier and his shitstorm-ready friends that Germany's most-watched television format, despite all Auenland and Westeros pre- and sequels, will not let up in the coming season to send its investigators into the darkness in the middle of society.
The darkness of the week, the darkness in the middle of Lena Odenthal's new case is femicide. According to conservative estimates, every three days a woman in Germany falls victim to an assassination attempt. In the past, this was called a belittling act in a relationship.
Men kill women out of jealousy, to offend a sick sense of honor, because they no longer understand the world in which gender roles are changing, the balance of power between the sexes is balanced. Because they are offended. Most of the time they use a knife. Because it is there. That's what the statistics say.
For a crime film, this approach is of course rather boring. To come up with a staged beacon, as it is at the core of "The Interrogation", most woman murderers not only lack the imagination. Murders in relationships, in families, are usually the result of a spontaneous escalation. In the exploding situation, there is no time for finesse, procuring forged alibis, laying false leads.
Screenwriters, crime writers and directors have it better. And read a lot more time and a lot of crime novels. Which is why, in turn, the result is sometimes such a carefully sampled, dramaturgically fine-tuned, morally flawless murder illumination as in the case of "interrogation".
“The interrogation” is of course not called that by accident. The suspect quickly sits in that claustrophobic room, for which one would like to proclaim a kind of closed period in view of the countless interrogation room films of the past few years. His name is Kessler. Captain he is. A tough dog.
He's big because Götz Otto plays him. The former Bond villain, who was Oberleutnant Arnold von Brentano in an Odenthal thriller 19 years ago, measures almost two meters. When we first meet him, he is belittled by his superiors. Because of an old male ritual in the troupe.
He didn't know the woman who died by the tree. She was an investment banker. Successful. More or less single mother. The man, Captain Kessler would describe him as a “rag”, she has just had custody withdrawn. He's got a watertight alibi. The tracks obviously lead through a jungle to Kessler like a legacy of elephant herds.
In his testosterone-pregnant self-confidence, he is the perfect victim for Lena Odenthal, the inspector who knows all the tricks of feminism, and her colleague. He immediately asks her what she did to get her job, later he bites her little finger in a kind of erotic assault.
That's how he sits. Puts his watch on the table. His window of opportunity is closing soon, he says. He is charming. You can't get the captain's mean grin out of your head for a long time. Götz Otto does it great as a monster.
However, because we are dealing with a femicide film here and not with the probably much more brutal reality, there is a nasty plan behind the serenity of the captain, which owes to continued reading by Patricia Highsmith and the use of clandestine incel corners on the dark web.
Odenthal and Kessler go at each other expectedly, but also - if one may say so in the case - entertainingly at each other in the infight room, which is the interrogation room. "Men beyond their peak of importance are particularly dangerous," she says.
When, in her feminist delusion, she triumphantly accuses him of being in the minority out there in West German reality beyond the interrogation room with his old-fashioned masculinity, he points out to her that she could very well be mistaken.
She humiliates him. He humiliates her. It escalates as expected, but at least psychologically questionable.
The fact that Kessler belongs in the Stone Age department of the Bundeswehr's mentality museum is made clear by a couple of rather amusing twists in "The Interrogation". Kessler is fossilized alive. A few ranks below is thought differently. "My boss," says a private about the woman who belittled Kessler at the beginning, "is a great human being."