In “My Neighbor Adolf,” a Polish Holocaust survivor residing in South America suspects that the belligerent German who’s simply moved in subsequent door may very well be none aside from der Führer himself. How may that be? Hitler dedicated suicide in his bunker on the finish of the warfare. Or did he? Director Leon Prudovsky’s middling thoughts recreation pits David Hayman and prolific German character actor Udo Kier towards each other in what may have been a sly, “Sleuth”-style two-hander. However the tonally uneven film isn’t ready for its personal premise: If the person’s hunch is right, what are the implications of creating buddies/enemies with evil?
Years earlier, Malek Polsky (Hayman) sat reverse Hitler on the World Chess Championship in Berlin. He swears he’d acknowledge “these lifeless blue eyes” wherever — and now they’re staring proper again at him over the rickety wood fence that separates their two properties. (The film takes place in 1960, the yr Israel captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.) To show his concept, Polsky should trick this suspicious new neighbor (Kier), who calls himself “Herman Herzog,” into revealing his secret previous.
This isn’t the primary time Udo Kier has performed somebody who may be Adolf Hitler. In 2002’s weird half-hour brief, “Mrs. Meitlemeihr,” Keir demonstrates how Hitler would possibly attempt to conceal himself in London, had he survived the warfare: by disguising himself in drag. Within the intentionally campy, Z-grade Nazis-on-the-moon satires, “Iron Sky,” he sieg-heils in house. And within the upcoming second season of Amazon Prime’s “Hunters,” Kier seems as world’s most infamous warfare prison, standing trial finally.
It’s the destiny of virtually all German actors in Hollywood that they’re solid as Nazis (or worse, in the event you take into account the sadistic villain he performed in “Dragged Throughout Concrete”). Kier — who started his profession embodying Baron Frankenstein and Depend Dracula in a pair of Andy Warhol-produced sexploitation classics — isn’t afraid to painting cinema’s darkest characters. However is Herr Herzog actually Adolf Hitler? That’s the million-dollar query in a film that might have been higher off cashing smaller checks.
With financing from Israel, Poland and Colombia, this odd multilingual affair has the dirty, grey look of early-aughts style movies, which has the bizarre impact of creating Polsky’s life all these years after the warfare look as grim as most Holocaust films. Cinematographer Radek Ladczuk’s palette is diminished practically to black and white, proper right down to Polsky’s prized roses: uncommon beauties with petals the colour of pure carbon.
Tending these vegetation are virtually the one pleasure he takes in life, having misplaced his household to the Nazis all these years in the past — so it’s no shock he’s upset when a lawyer (Olivia Silhavy) with a thick German accent seems at his door, seeking to lease the neighboring property for a “very distinguished gentleman.” The brand new tenant (performed by Keir in a tacked-on Leo Tolstoy beard) owns a German Shepherd who instantly crosses into Polsky’s backyard and defecates on his flowers.
At instances, “My Neighbor Adolf” appears fairly refined in its remedy of the topic (take into account the indirect means Polsky’s focus camp historical past is revealed), whereas at others, the movie stoops to bizarre “Residence Alone”-level gags, as when Polsky seeks revenge by attempting to urinate on Herzog’s automotive — solely, his bladder is so unreliable, he’s unable to observe via on his plan. Stranger nonetheless, after studying up on Hitler’s defining traits, Polsky determines to examine whether or not Herzog has only one testicle, as Hitler reportedly did.
Such questionable-taste touches apart, the movie unfolds like an earnest, low-rent “Rear Window,” with Polsky spying on Herzog from his upstairs window via a telephoto lens, gathering proof for the no-help authorities. After his neighbor breaks out a chess board, Polsky means that they play collectively … once more. These classes deliver the 2 strangers nearer, leading to an uneasy kinship that complicates their dynamic, whereas giving each actors extra dimensions to discover within the too-lean script.
Prudovsky and co-writer Dmitry Malinsky have a logical rationalization for Herzog’s backstory, although it’s a critical letdown in comparison with over-the-top Nazi-in-hiding thrillers like “Marathon Man” and “Apt Pupil.” This mission is extra psychological than suspense-driven in nature, which is admirable, if disappointing in the long run. As an alternative of escalating to a dramatic and probably violent confrontation, the movie seeks to supply its protagonists some respite from the trauma every has skilled — to bury the previous. Would that it have been so easy.