Monday, 19 May 2014
Here we make a bit of a departure as Katrin wasn't a child actress, being already in her twenties when she started playing schoolgirl Lucy Collins in Brookside in 1982. It's also the first post where a definite line can be drawn under the last film as Katrin sadly passed away from pneumonia 11 years ago.
I decided very early on that Brookside wasn't for me so I don't remember Katrin from that and can't actually recall when I became interested in her; most probably it was after the televising of Breaking The Waves in the late nineties.
Katrin was born in 1961 in London to an English father and a Jewish German mother who worked as a typist at London Films Studio after the war. She attended the Royal Court Young People's Theatre and the part of Lucy Collins followed from that. She got her first film role as her time on the soap was drawing to an end.
1. Sacred Hearts ( 1986 )
2. Eat The Rich ( 1987 )
Katrin's second film role was as Robbie Coltrane's girlfriend in a couple of scenes in this so-called comedy directed by Comic Strip's Peter Richardson. She only has two words to say which is probably a blessing.
This film had timeliness on its side , being released at the height of the yuppie phenomenon but it misfires on all fronts. No wonder Thatcher won another landslide that year if this was the standard of satire produced by her opponents. There is a plot of sorts. Alex ( Lanah Pellay ) a waiter at a posh restaurant called Bastards ( a good indication of the level of wit employed in the script ) is sacked and , while sleeping rough, acquires a pistol from a passing terrorist which he uses to shoot up a dole office. This inspires him to form a revolutionary cabal aided by a KGB mole ( Ronald Allen ) at the Home Office who is out to nobble his boss ( Nosher Powell ).
The film is further proof that as far as Richardson is concerned it was all downhill from Five Go Mad In Dorset. It's painfully unfunny - a substandard Spitting Image sketch stretched out to fill 90 minutes with the crudest Tory-baiting and slapstick violence. Most of the characters go by their actor's real first names which doesn't suggest a great deal of effort was spent on the script and it certainly shows. All the Comic Strip regulars duly help out with inconsequential cameos apart from Coltrane whose performance is so wildly over the top it seems like deliberate sabotage to ensure he wasn't asked again.
It would probably have helped if Richardson had cast a few actors in the main parts. Pellay ( real name Alan Pillay ) is a talentless transvestite also-ran from the New Romantic era and his mincing performance sets one's teeth on edge. Former boxer and stuntman Powell plays the cartoon reactionary Home Secretary as Arthur Mullard, his diction so bad that half his lines are incomprehensible. Allen, the ex-Crossroads plank given a new lease of life by Comic Strip in the same sense that Ed Wood revived Bela Lugosi's career , camps his way through proceedings aided by Ian Kilmister i.e Lemmy whose acting skills make Sting look like an Oscar candidate. How he attained national treasure status after this farrago is anyone's guess. For extra pain half a dozen Motorhead tracks deployed at random comprise the bulk of the soundtrack.
I'm struggling to find anything positive to say about it but I suppose there was some mild fun in spotting all the pop stars ( including Paul McCartney whose appearance shows a fine sense of irony ) playing minor roles.
After appearing in another Comic Strip production The Funseekers on Channel 4 in 1988 Katrin worked exclusively in the theatre for the next five years.
3. Naked ( 1993 )
Katrin's breakthrough role came in this much-loved Mike Leigh film, still regularly repeated on TV twenty years on.
People will debate this rich, multi-layered film until the cows come home. I'm only going to throw a few ideas in. The film follows the misadventures of Johnny, a fiercely intelligent, well-read but unemployed man in his late twenties, who flees Manchester for London after a rough sexual encounter in an alley ( the degree of consent involved is ambiguous ). He drops in on an ex-girlfriend Louise ( Lesley Sharp ) who has moved down to London for work but ends up bonking her flatmate Sophie ( Katrin ) , a flaky, also unemployed, pothead. Sophie's neediness drives him out onto the streets where he meets an assortment of desperate characters who are equally lost in early nineties London. At the same time we are also introduced to Jeremy ( Greg Cruttwell ), a despicable yuppie, and invited to compare the two before their paths eventually cross.
London is almost a character itself, a cold, grey and unforgiving place , only interested in those with money as exemplified by the soulless, empty office block being guarded by the lonely security guard Brian ( Peter Wight ). Leigh's preference for his Salford roots is made explicit in the conversations between Johnny and Louise - "At least people talk to you there ". The film is also fixed in its moment, the Major years as Britain took stock of where a decade of Thatcherism had left it and there's a direct reference to her departure early in the film. The film has a fantastic score, the sparse harp weeping for these numbed characters' incomprehension at the changed landscape.
Not everyone loved it. There was a lot of criticism of the violence shown towards women in the film and their acceptance of the same. Both Johnny and Jeremy like their sex rough and Sophie takes it from both of them. The mitigation is that in Johnny's case it's a projection of his extreme self-loathing , he eventually checks it and he's on the receiving end of more violence than anyone else in the film.
David Thewlis's Johnny is one of cinema's greatest antiheroes. My pet theory about Johnny is that he's based on Neil Hughes, the articulate but unemployable star of the Seven Up documentary series , who went from being the most engaging of the children to the verge of insanity. 35 Up , the most harrowing of all his appearances was broadcast in 1991 and Neil, shabby , fidgety and irritable throughout, prophesied that he'd "likely be wandering the streets homeless in London". I don't know that Leigh watches the series but you'd think it was the sort of thing that floated his boat wouldn't you ? Neil has never given any hint of misogyny or deployed sarcastic putdowns in his interviews ; that side of Johnny is a Leigh / Thewlis creation. Johnny is capable of warmth and empathy but the world isn't really interested.
It's not all about Thewlis though. I don't know what Lesley Sharp is like in real life but on screen she radiates enormous warmth and her Louise is like a lighthouse in this sea of misery , just by being humane and decent. Cruttwell does as well as he can given he's playing a cartoon monster with absolutely no redeeming features and Gina McKee, in a haunting cameo as a deeply depressed young woman and Ewen Bremner as a hopelessly lost young Scot and the oblivious victim of Johnny's most coruscating wit are the pick of the smaller roles.
Which brings us to Katrin. As noted above Sophie was criticised for being a doormat but you can hardly deny there are women with low self-esteem out there and Katrin's gaunt features were perfect for the part. I'm ambivalent about the voice- I don't think she tries to talk without moving her lips in any other film - but it doesn't derail an accomplished performance. She's in good shape physically as well.
4. Before The Rain ( 1994 )
Katrin dipped her first toes in the European film world when she appeared in this Macedonian drama which won a number of continental film awards and received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film ( although a third of it is actually in English ).
The film is told in three parts in non-linear fashion so I'll have to be careful with spoilers.
Part One , "Words" is set in rural Macedonia and concerns a young Orthodox monk Kiril ( Gregoire Colin ) who, while obeying a vow of silence, harbours an Albanian girl Zamira ( Labina Mitevska ) who has apparently killed a Macedonian man and is being hunted down by the man's gun-toting relatives. Part Two "Faces" concerns Anne ( Katrin ) a journalist struggling to deal with the complication of being pregnant by her husband while wishing to be with her Macedonian lover Aleks ( Rade Serbedzija ) a Pulitzer prize winner. Part Three "Pictures " sees Aleks returning to his home village in Macedonia to tie the plot together.
This film predictably drew much praise from the anti-Hollywood intelligentsia but I think it's an "Emperor's New Clothes" situation. Despite being over two hours long the characters are thinly drawn and there are huge gaps in the narrative. We don't learn why Anne's marriage has run into difficulties nor what really transpired between Zamira and her alleged victim. There's also a major problem with the structure in that the first part is the most interesting and the third the least so it becomes progressively more of a trial to watch. Most of "Pictures" is crushingly boring ; the excruciating close-ups of lambs being born seem like gratuitous attempts to jolt the viewer awake. The violent climax of "Faces" is quite ludicrous and seems to come from a different film altogether.
Of course the film was made when civil war was raging in some of Macedonia's neighbours and there are references to that throughout the film particularly in what passes for Aleks's back story. However the film has no great insight into Balkan blood feuds beyond a hackneyed "violence breeds violence" message. You have to give the Macedonians some credit for backing a film which gives such a bleak picture of the country; a parched countryside of semi-ruinous farms worked by trigger-happy bigots was never going to have the tourists flocking there.
The performances are nothing special. Serbedzija looks good but his acting is perfunctory. Colin is perhaps the best actor on show despite the obvious lack of dialogue.
Despite top billing ,Katrin hardly appears in the first and last parts and isn't at her best with the leaden, humourless script giving her little scope to develop the character. There's the odd glimpse of nipple but this is a seriously unsexy film and best avoided.
5. Look Me In The Eye (1994 )
6. Merisairas ( 1996 )
7. Breaking The Waves ( 1996 )
Katrin hooked up with Lars Von Trier for this controversial drama about religious extremism which won the 1996 Grand Prix at Cannes.
She plays Dorothy ( "Dodo" ) the widowed sister-in-law and self-appointed guardian of Bess ( Emily Watson ), a naive young woman with a history of mental health issues living in a remote Presbyterian community in the north of Scotland in the early 70s. At the beginning of the film Bess marries Jan ( Stellan Skarsgard ) a Scandinavian working on an offshore oil rig. Bess is reluctant to let Jan go back to work and prays for his return which occurs when an accident renders him virtually paralysed. Holding herself responsible, Bess embarks on a dangerous series of sexual exploits to please the delirious Jan thereby incurring the wrath of the Kirk.
This is a long, sometimes a tad slow but generally absorbing, look at religious values and their interplay with the forces of love , sex and death. There was some disquiet about the sexual content and the possible exploitation of an unknown actress ( this being Watson's first film ) after Helena Bonham-Carter dropped out at the last minute. In fact it's far from being a porn film; there are only two nude scenes - one each for Watson and the not exactly well-toned Skarsgard - and the camera never dwells long on anyone's physique.
It's also unpopular with secularists who approve the dismantling of Presbyterian inhumanity throughout the film - I love the way the church gets emptier with each visit - but loathe the startling epiphany of the ending and its reaffirmation of the idea of blood sacrifice. I was surprised to learn that von Trier wasn't ( then ) a Catholic after seeing it for the first time.
The period is evoked through the judicious use of some choice music as well as the cars and clothes and you get a good sense of the erosion of old values as the oil workers come to town. There's a great scene early on when one of Jan's mates has a drinking contest with the church elder ( a marvellous cameo from Robert Robertson ) who downs his cordial in one and crushes the glass in his hand. The hand-held camera work is a bit jarring at first but ceases to be a distraction as the story develops. The scenery around the port of Mallaig is stunning.
There's also a sly sense of humour at work. Ray Jeffries's expression as he receives an unsolicited hand job on the bus is priceless
Watson was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for her performance. The key scenes in the film are the ones where she has a dialogue with herself, taking on the part of God on one hand and her meek self on the other and she's utterly convincing in all of them. Her accent is so good it's hard to believe she isn't actually Scottish. Skarsgard too is excellent. Outside of Scandinavia, he was a little known bit part player before this film. My only quibble is that normally he has one of the most distinctive voices in cinema but a lot of the time he seems to be suffering from laryngitis in this. Katrin has a fair amount of screen time and some emotional scenes; she is absolutely fine but the uncomplicated role of a devoted friend doesn't give her the same chances to impress as Watson. The two women remained good friends after this but unfortunately never got the chance to work together again.
8. Saint-Ex ( 1997 )
9. Career Girls ( 1997 )
Katrin reunited with Mike Leigh for one of the lead roles in this, his first film after the Oscar-winning Secrets And Lies. She is Hannah , an outwardly successful woman in her thirties hooking up for a weekend with her former student flatmate Anna ( Lynda Steadman ) six years after graduating. As they go about some fairly humdrum business in London there are flashbacks to their student days.
This subtle, determinedly low-key ( as I think you'll have guessed from the precis above ) drama was never going to repeat the success of Secrets And Lies and isn't one of Leigh's best known works but it's still worth seeing. It's much less political than its predecessors - critics suggested this might be due to Leigh's satisfaction with the General Election result that year - and more concerned with the development of friendship and maturity even over a relatively short period of time.
Katrin won the Evening Standard Film Award for Best Actress ( and was nominated for a European Film Award ) and deservedly so. Hannah is on the surface a wacky English student - initially it looks like she's merely going to reprise Sophie - outspoken to the point of brutality but really trying to mask a heapload of family trauma and consequent insecurity. The older version is calmer and wittier but still vulnerable. Beneath the surface she is warm and empathetic - as was Katrin in real life we are told. Katrin carries this all off with aplomb and rattles off some great one liners - probably her own - into the bargain. Beside her it's difficult not to find Steadman ( no relation to Alison as I'm sure she's tired of repeating ) as the painfully shy Anna a bit wanting . Especially in the student scenes her whiny voice and shuddery mannerisms stir unwanted memories of Les Dennis's hauntingly awful impersonation of Mavis Riley from Coronation Street.
Apart from the two leads you have Kate Byers as the third flatmate Claire, a character so utterly superfluous it makes you wonder if you've missed something , Joe Tucker as the self-centred swine who exploits them both and Andy Serkis playing another of Mike Leigh's wealthy wankers and the main victim of Hannah's wit in an hilarious scene when the girls look round his flat. The most memorable support though comes from Mark Benton - that chubby Geordie who's never off the TV but you can't put a name to him - as Anna's fellow psychology student Ricky. He's one of those working class students whose intelligence is more likely to be a handicap than a help in life and so it proves despite the compassion shown by both girls . There are definite echoes of Naked's Johnny here but Ricky is far less resilient and his scenes at the end of the film are heartbreaking.
Apart from that I loved the use of The Cure's music throughout the film and the all-too- appropriate use of the dismal north-eastern seaside resort Seaton Carew ( visited on several occasions by yours truly as a pre-match stop before games at Hartlepool ) as the setting for Ricky's last scene.
10. Claire Dolan ( 1998 )
Katrin took on another challenging role here as the titular character in Lodge Kerrigan's film which was nominated but didn't win at Cannes.
Claire is an expensive but ageing prostitute originally from Dublin but operating in New York. She is in debt to her pimp Ciane ( Colm Meaney ) but sees a way out when her invalid mother passes away and her boyfriend Elton ( Vincent D' Onofrio ) , a decent-ish cab driver pays off some of the debt.
The film was a joint American/ French venture but feels much more European in tone. It's not a comfortable movie to watch, filmed in harsh light ( which has the unfortunate effect of making the price for Katrin's services less credible ) with mainly monochromatic interiors and costumes and a minimalist soundtrack of single note cello drones . The sex scenes are plentiful but determinedly un-erotic, without music other than grunts and slapping noises and some are used purely as punctuation. New York is presented as an unglamorous, impersonal and often threatening place without resorting to cliche. The male of our species is not presented in a very good light.
The plot unfolds in an interesting but not totally absorbing fashion and surely I'm not the only person who's said "Is that it ?" when the credits come up.
Katrin is in almost every scene and doesn't disappoint, switching effortlessly between dead-eyed disengagement, justifiable paranoia and delight at the rare opportunities for simple domestic pleasures. Needless to say she's frequently called into action physically, almost as if she's trying to outscore her pal Emily Watson in the number of sex scenes ( without revealing quite as much ) in one film. She has good support from Colm Meaney, usually a boneheaded chump in action movies but exceptional here as the revolting pimp veiling his menace with sickening faux-Irish bonhomie. D'Onofrio is OK as the boyfriend but not in the same league.
It's worth seeing for Katrin but not wholly satisfying.
11. Hi-Life ( 1998 )
12. The Lost Son ( 1999 )
13. Topsy-Turvy ( 1999 )
Katrin technically made it a hat-trick of Mike Leigh films with this one although in reality she only dropped by on a spare day to appear in one scene as a favour to Leigh . Nevertheless she's easily spotted in a brothel scene early on in the film.
That left me with something of a dilemma ; how to sit through another two and a half hours of a film about Gilbert and Sullivan. I have precious little interest in opera but enough to know they were as lowbrow as it gets , the spiritual godfathers of Flanders and Swann and Richard Stilgo and beloved of Home Counties heroes such as Alan Titchmarsh. Therefore I've avoided them like the plague and this film was always going to be an endurance test.
Normally I try to watch films for this blog as "blind" as possible - if I know nothing more than the title and that a given actress is in it that's perfect. However I aborted my first attempt at watching this after an hour or so, by which time I'd completely lost the plot , not helped by nodding off once or twice . I will admit therefore to the use of wikipedia as a navigational aid before my second attempt.
This isn't a straight biopic of the pair, focussing instead on one particular mini-crisis in their professional relationship. It's 1884 and following the tepid critical response to Princess Ida, Arthur Sullivan ( Allan Corduner ) announces that he cannot fulfil his contractual obligation to write the music for another W S Gilbert ( Jim Broadbent ) storyline if it's to be in the same vein. Gilbert's response is The Mikado .
That's it as far as "the plot" goes, what makes up the length of the film are generous excerpts from the relevant works and many, meticulously-researched vignettes about the pair's private lives, the D' Oyly Carte theatre company or late Victorian society in general filtered through the company's performers such as Temple ( Timothy Spall ) or Leonora Brahm ( Shirley Henderson ) . It could easily be a sprawling mess like Star ! but actually works surprisingly well in Leigh's hands.
This of course was quite a departure for him as a historical drama without the same scope for his improvisational techniques. It is an art film , a labour of love which wasn't released widely enough to cover its costs despite winning two Oscars for costume and make-up. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay but lost out to American Beauty. It's by no means flawless. Some parts drag on far too long such as the extended rehearsal scene where one of the theatre managers stands in for a missing actor or the pointless discussion between the actors of the Khartoum crisis. Other storylines could have been developed a little further such as the relationship between Gilbert and his parents ; there's a harrowing early scene where Gilbert's father ( Charles Simon ) breaks down in his sitting room but that's the last we see of him.
It could also be better balanced. Leigh seems to favour Gilbert as the one more worthy of screen time while Sullivan comes across as rather vain and self-indulgent. For me as well there's a little too much opera ; I can't see the dramatic point of including a lengthy number from The Sorcerer when it was only revived by the theatre as a stopgap while the impasse was resolved.
As always with Leigh's films the acting is impeccable with Broadbent superb as the truculent and irascible Gilbert who is morose and self-doubting in private moments. He has all the best lines and makes the most of them. Corduner who I've never heard of before is by no means poor but doesn't get the same chances to shine. The rest are mainly Leigh regulars with parts of varying size. Alison Steadman appears just once in restrained form as a costumier, Spall's performance is overshadowed by his dreadful singing voice and Lesley Manville is sympathetic as the benignly-neglected Mrs Gilbert. Ron Cook also deserves a mention as the supernaturally calm D' Oyly Carte , a far cry from his usual seedy rogue characters.
14. The Cherry Orchard ( 1999 )
15. Hotel Splendide ( 2000 )
Katrin plays a supporting role in this stylish black comedy part funded by Film on Four.
It's set in an indeterminate time ( but no earlier than the thirties ) in a hotel-cum-health spa on an island accessible only by ferry. The hotel's routines were set up by the recently deceased Dame Blanche and are kept going by her family led by her unhealthily devoted son Desmond ( Stephen Tomkinson ) . His brother Ronald ( Daniel Craig ) serves the guests appalling meals of seaweed and eels to the accompaniment of a recording of Dame Blanche listing various digestive ills in remorseless detail, sister Cora ( Katrin Cartlidge ) treats the resultant disorders and the guests' excrement is fed into a methane converter to heat the hotel in winter. The guests are mainly helpless geriatrics but also include Desmond's mistress ( Helen McCrory ) , a sunlight-phobic Russian ( Joerg Stadler ) with a thing for Cora and Stanley a young virgin obsessed with sex ( Hugh O' Conor ) who intermittently provides a voiceover. Their equilibrium is upset by the return of former sous-chef Kath ( Toni Colette ) dismissed by Dame Blanche after developing a romance with Ronald but now summoned back by a telegram announcing the old witch's death. In Cold Comfort Farm style she sets about transforming the place.
This could just be a satire on the private health industry but I suspect it's a pre-Iraq War celebration of Tory defeat. The last line on Desmond , "Poor Desmond he tried so hard to keep it going" seems like a clear reference to John Major with the baleful Blanche as You Know Who.
This is definitely not a DVD for a TV dinner. To say that the film didn't have an unlimited budget the Gothic sets , a mixture of elements from Alien, Eraserhead and Gormenghast , are queasily impressive. To make matters worse it's all filmed in a ghastly pale green light.The make-up too is top notch; nearly every character is pale and unhealthy but Desmond, already resplendent in a repulsive green outfit seemingly borrowed from early Split Enz's wardrobe , suffers from psoriasis and looks positively hideous.
There's something about Tomkinson , a cruel cast to his features perhaps, that makes it impossible for me to warm to him even when playing supposedly sympathetic characters but he's excellent here as the pathetic but still rather nasty Desmond. Craig is alright but his character is not very well -written. Colette, who I don't think I've come across before, is no more than adequate although she certainly displays a fine body in the sex scene. I love Peter Vaughan who plays Blanche's rather hapless husband but I didn't enjoy the scenes he played while sat on the toilet. He deserved better than that.
Katrin's Cora is the most sympathetic character as the tragicomic spinster sister treated as virtually an employee but her fate sits rather uncomfortably with the rest of the plot.
The film certainly has its weak points but I found it rather entertaining.
16. The Weight Of Water ( 2000 )
Katrin played another spinster sister in this half-forgotten film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Sean Penn - a good one to pluck out of the memory banks if you're ever on Pointless. Although it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000 it wasn't released until after Katrin's death two years later. She only has a handful of scenes playing a rather spiteful prude ( and looking chubbier than usual ) but she's on the money.
The film juxtaposes a modern family drama with a murder mystery ( the basic facts of which are true ) nearly 150 years before. Jean Janes ( Catherine McCormack ) is a photographer married to morose poet Thomas ( Penn ). His brother Rich ( Josh Lucas ) agrees to take them to the remote Smuttynose Island where two Norwegian women were horrifically murdered in 1873. Louis Wagner, a semi-invalid freeloader ( Ciaran Hinds ) was executed for the crime , largely on the say - so of a third woman, the unhappily married Maren ( Sarah Polley ). Jean has an assignment to cover the story but soon gets distracted by the presence of Rich's girlfriend Aveline ( Liz Hurley ) whose flirtations with her husband are all too obvious.
The premise has ominous similarities to Kenneth Branagh's execrable Dead Again. This is a much better film than that but it's not entirely satisfying. The two stories run concurrently throughout but Bigelow doesn't really manage to join the dots. Maren and Jean are both unhappily married but the circumstances are poles apart and it's hard to find anything else connecting them. The climax of the Victorian drama is shocking and riveting; the contrived melodrama which resolves Jean's story is bathetic.
Polley's is probably the best performance in the film as the repressed and frustrated young housewife and McCormack is pretty good too although she has less chances to shine. Bigelow hasn't provided any good parts for the male actors. Penn , whose Richard Hammond-esque hairstyle is even worse than the one he sported in Carlito's Way, gives a fine performance but his callous and self-pitying character is completely repellent. Lucas and the Norwegian men are two-dimensional at best although Hinds makes the most of his small role.
And what of La Hurley ? Well she's OK and looks very fetching while rolling an ice cube over her boobs but she's not really stretched by the role.
17. No Man's Land ( 2001 )
At the tail end of her career Katrin got to appear in an Oscar-winning film as this won Best Foreign Language Film of 2001 ( although a small portion of the film is in English ).
There's some online controversy over the fact that it was preferred to the popular Amelie and you can see some grounds for suspicion that political correctness won the day. This has a very contrived premise. It's set in 1993 during the civil war in Yugoslavia ( specifically Bosnia ). A Bosnian patrol is surprised and near-wiped out with two survivors, Ciki ( Branko Duric ) and Cera ( Filip Sovagovic ) taking refuge in a trench between the lines . A two-man Serbian patrol investigate and, while Ciki is hiding, place the unconscious Cera over a spring mine that will explode in the air and spray deadly shrapnel if he moves. Inexplicably failing to act while they are preoccupied with moving Cera, Ciki shoots them straight afterwards but lacks the ammunition to finish off the younger man Nino ( Rene Bitorajac ) . Instead they are forced into a grudging co-operation to escape the trench with the "aid" of the UN and a news crew nearby fronted by English journalist Jane ( Katrin ).
This sort of stranded enemies scenario has been explored before in the likes of Hell In The Pacific and Enemy Mine although unlike the latter in particular the two men never grow to like or respect each other, remaining mortal enemies to the end of the film. Despite his Bosniak background director Boris Tanovic ( making his film with the assistance of half of Europe ) is fair in his depiction of Nino who is an unenthusiastic , rather callow, recruit rather than a murderous fanatic and he and Ciki are roughly morally equivalent.
It's perplexing then that, having set up the scene for a neutral-ish parable about the futility of war Tanovic abandons any pretence of objectivity. From the insertion of a biased news report on the conflict around the halfway mark , the film becomes a diatribe about the Western response to the conflict and the three men in the trench are almost bystanders as the focus switches to the haggling ( for which you need either French or subtitles to follow ) between the UNPROFOR force and the fictional Global News channel.
The two main protagonists are both played well with Duric in particular looking the part. Georges Satiades , looking very like Adrian Brody is effective as the humane French captain while perhaps surprisingly Simon Callow impresses as the villain of the piece , the PR-obsessed British UNPROFOR colonel with non-speaking dolly bird on his desk ( a crass and silly detail ).
This isn't Katrin's best film role. Although her posh accent and fluency in French are both commendable, the character isn't very credible. She has the ability to run rings round the army brass and then botches her interview with Nino with the crass ineptitude of a first day recruit and her moralistic philosophising in the middle of a live report doesn't ring true at all.
It's an interesting venture but don't let anyone tell you it's a masterpiece.
18. From Hell ( 2001 )
The very last film of Katrin's career was her first big Hollywood picture. Unfortunately it's not a very good one.
It's a virtual remake of the much superior 1979 film about the Jack The Ripper killings Murder By Decree , replacing Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Holmes and Watson with Johnny Depp's American sleuth and if you've seen the earlier film there are no surprises here. The central idea, that the murders were orchestrated to cover up an indiscretion of the Duke of Clarence is exactly the same.
Katrin plays one of the murdered prostitutes Dark Annie Chapman who was cut open and her uterus removed. She looks the part but doesn't have a great deal to do and it's not likely Katrin would have wanted this to be her swansong.
Katrin died in September 2002 after checking into hospital with flu-like symptoms. There is a suspicion that she didn't receive the best possible care and it was reported that she died of pneumonia and septicaemia. Katrin habitually looked underweight and it's hard to believe that wasn't at least a contributory factor.
After her untimely death, Mike Leigh took the lead in setting up the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation , a trust which awards an annual bursary to a young creative film-maker in commemoration of her.