Parents' Guide to

The Counterfeiters

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Bleak, mature film about WWII concentration camp.

Movie R 2008 98 minutes
The Counterfeiters Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Survival is painful

A somber film that is relentless in its sharing of just how far people will go to treat other people like non-humans and be abusive and cruel. The specifics of how the Nazis utilized these "artists" and bankers for their own ends is a story that is long overdue to share. Every actor embodies their characters well and although watching all of the trauma onscreen is unpleasant their story of survival is painful. Striesow is perfect in his role. Believable as an opportunist at every turn. The film reverberates and pulses with the stories of all of those who did not make it...and there are so so many extinguished without a care or an afterthought. This film at least serves as a palimpsest..insistent and unmovable.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky's movie tells a terrible but strangely enthralling story, focused on the moral evolution of Solly, the counterfeiter. His complexities -- his desires, fears, and inclination to cheat -- are shrewdly visible in Markovics' remarkable performance. In part, this complexity is achieved by his comparison with other prisoners: former activist (anti-Nazi) printer Adolf Burger (August Diehl) and sensitive Russian art student Kolya (Sebastian Urzendowsky). Equally mesmerizing is Solly's relationship with camp commandant Friedrich Herzog (David Striesow), who at times seems to think of himself as Solly's "friend" -- or at least a colleague in their illegal enterprise -- while also enforcing his power in vile displays of sadism.

The film is also beautifully shot and structured. Rather than taking a more conventional approach -- slow, long takes and somber stationary framing -- the difficult emotional and moral situations of The Counterfeiters are conveyed with a handheld camera and a variety of images: tight shots of shadowed faces, or distant observation of the lonely, bent-over forms of men in dire straits. Such careful, nuanced aesthetic choices reflect the perpetual shifting of Solly's mind as he strives first to protect himself from the Nazis, then to outwit them, and at last to face them ... and resist becoming a monster himself. Though he's surely broken by the experience, he also finds a resolve and capacity for ethical assessment.

Movie Details

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