Film of the Month, March 2013 – Todsünde
Film of the Month – March 2013
Todsünde (“Deadly Sin”)
Todsünde is a German TV-movie that first aired on November 24 2008 on ZDF. Directed by Matti Geschonnek and based on the novel by Friedrich Ani, the movie follows the story of Polonius Fischer, a former monk who now works as a police commissioner.
Polonius, played by Hanns Zischler, has either left the monastery by himself after not finding god (his version) or was kicked out (what everybody else thinks). Proper manners apparently were not part of his monk schooling-schedule and so he constantly affronts other people. To emphasize that the character is or was a man of god, he is reading from the Bible, even on police situation meetings. The unlikely cop is working in the homicide department. On this “working day” he has not only one but two cases or murder to solve.
The movie, set in Munich in winter, starts by a frozen pond, where a man and a woman are on some kind of date. The man, played by Christoph Waltz, starts a monologue on the nature of hatred. Now isn’t this romantic?
After this episode, the movie wastes no time to present us with our killer, Jonathan Badura (played by Matthias Brandt), a guy who has serious mental health issues. We see him together with a woman he found fit to place on a stool with a cable around her neck. Jonathan accuses her of killing her kid but then has to use the bathroom. While he’s out of the room, she falls off the stool. Oops.
The scenery changes to an underground parking lot. Two kids kick a ball around and find a curious wardrobe. The ball hits the wardrobe, the door opens and the dead woman from a scene ago falls out. Now that’s a story to tell at school!
Polonius arrives on the scene. It doesn’t take the cops to find out who the woman was and that she apparently had been murdered. His hopes of calling it a day before lunch fade when his partner tells him that she had a daughter who now is missing. While both would prefer to not work together on this case, they are now forced to if they are to find the girl before it is too late.
Guess who kidnapped the girl – yes, you are right – Jonathan! This means you already are better suited for the task of finding her than Polonius.
Wondered what happened to our couple from the beginning? We cut back to them to find them in a barn where their date is “heating up”…
For the rest of the movie, Polonius is trying to find the killers and meets sideshow characters on the way whose actors usually play cops on other shows.
While not being a totally awful movie, Todsünde fails to rise above the level “mediocre”. The actors are doing a fine job on what they are given, but the writing leaves much to wish for. None of the characters is really credible or really develops throughout the movie. The movie lacks a straight thread to follow, it jumps abruptly between story and time lines. The sound effects are annoying and too loud in relation to the dialogues. Squeezing two cases into a movie of 90 minutes (minus end credits) doesn’t work well either as neither of the story lines is given enough time to develop. If they had made two movies out of it, the movie in total would probably have turned out better.
Unfortunately, neither the original author nor the screenplay writer felt like doing proper research on police work – or at least consulted a real cop or a lawyer for advice on these details.
Polonius makes enough mistakes to screw up five other investigations. Hearing somebody as witness in a restaurant (!) and then tell your colleagues to search that person’s flat without real proof before even asking a judge about it? Bad idea. Make a suspect out of your witness on the same scene without stating so? Bad idea. Questioning somebody without a second cop as witness? Bad idea. Any lawyer coming fresh from law school could shred this charge to pieces.
Mr. Waltz’s character only plays a minor part in the movie and thus he is only given a few scenes. To be honest, his character’s plot is fairly unnecessary for the movie. His performance still is good and you probably will like to see it.
The basic message of this movie seems to be that you don’t have to settle in life with being a poor monk when you can also be a poor cop.