The Keeper: The BRWC Review.
Forgiveness is innately human. We are all capable of it, and we have all sought it out at some point in our lives. It is not always straightforward though; some actions are so dark and twisted that forgiving them takes a monumental effort. One of the most significant examples of the power of forgiveness is the story of Bert Trautmann (David Kross). When Trautmann first arrived in Britain, he was a prisoner of war caught in the dying months of the Second World War. He had joined the Nazi army of his own ignorant volition and went on to earn the Iron Cross. If someone were only to know this about Bert and nothing else, then his Order of The British Empire, awarded to him in 2004, would sound like complete insanity. The gap between is where director Marcus H. Rosenmüller’s newest film comes in.
Appropriately named “The Keeper” this sports biopic is light on football and high in drama. This decision was the right one as although the script is lacking in certain vital aspects of Bert’s life, it is entirely brilliant and evocative. The discourse on just how hard it is to forgive someone for being apart of the cruellest regime in human history works incredibly well. Bert’s eventual wife Margate (Freya Mavor) is the perfect example of this. She starts out hating Bert; he was on the side of the men that took away countless British lives and committed many other atrocities. She says it best when she berates him, telling him that he stole the youth of the young men and women of Britain and that being good at football will not change that. Margate’s forgiveness is as much the heart of this story as Bert himself, and that strengthens the film to no end. She is the perfect representation of how the world came to embrace him.
The uniting power of sport is the most moving part of any sports film. There is something about the struggle and triumph of athletes that will always be endearing. The biggest strength of “The Keeper” is that it combines athletic heroics with the aforementioned complicated forgiveness. It elevates the sporting sequences to a whole new level of emotion. This is not a run of the mill underdog story; this is the most hated person in Manchester becoming a hero for Manchester City despite 20,000 people, many of whom were Jewish, protesting when he signed for the club. If I did not know it was true, I would struggle to believe it.
The performances are what drive this more so than anything else. Kross and Mavor have instant chemistry that flows at the perfect level throughout. Once married, they shine all the brighter and carry the hefty weight of the drama to the end without missing a beat. Marvor, in particular, tugs at the heartstrings. She has numerous moments to command the screen, and she pulls it off every time and in captivating fashion. Her speech to the people of Manchester pleading and debating with them as to why they should forgive her husband is spectacularly moving. Another noteworthy performance is that of Harry Melling as “Sergeant Smythe” who is both detestable and engaging in his role. He rules his concentration camp without compassion, and when all is said and done, it is almost impossible to say if we should condemn him for that or not.
The score is beautiful and successfully encompasses the trauma to triumph tale that “The Keeper” is. Musical scores endeavour to elevate every aspect of the screen, and composer Gerd Baumann has achieved that here.
The direction is the films only notable hiccup. The overall approach of the movie is rather straight forward and respectful. Unfortunately, some small periods slide past without much impact as a result of this. The presentation of such a complex script in such a straightforward manner is also unfortunate. More could have been said with the movie had the right risks been taken at the right moments. However, Rosenmüller treads lightly with his subjects, as so many directors of biopics do. It is worth noting testing the waters by utilising a faster pace and more engaging direction very quickly could have stifled a story very much worth telling well. If the leisurely pace is the price that must be paid to avoid disaster than in this case, I am more than happy to pay it.
“The Keeper” finds the perfect way to articulate the substantial power of forgiveness. This sports biopic may go easy on the sport, but the emotion still manages to soar as high as the Bert himself did between the posts. Rosenmüller’s approach to the film may have been safe, but that is not enough to overly damage this moving cinema experience.
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