Plodding symbolism weighs down "The German Doctor," a drama that casts a harsh light on Argentina’s post-World War II harboring of Nazi sentiments.
It’s 1960 in Patagonia, in southern Argentina, and Enzo (Diego Peretti) and Eva (Natalia Oriero) are relocating the family to a hotel Eva has inherited on a resort lake. Also new to the area is a German (Àlex Brendemühl) who claims he’s a veterinarian with an interest in cattle hormone research.
‘The German Doctor’
Opens Friday, June 27, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for thematic material and brief nudity; 94 minutes.
What the family doesn’t know, but the audience is clued in to early on, is that the German is the fugitive Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. The doctor befriends the couple’s undersized daughter, Lilith (Florencia Bado), and takes an interest in the pregnant Eva and in Enzo’s doll-making inventions. (The blue-eyed blond dolls become a too-pat metaphor for Mengele’s eugenics ambitions.)
Writer-director Lucía Puenzo assigns narration duties to Lilith, bringing a naive curiosity to Mengele’s actions and the still-simmering pro-Nazi sympathies among her schoolmates and teachers. As the story plays out, though, Puenzo’s melodramatic overkill taxes the viewer’s patience.
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