A brave dramatic premise: as the Allies approach Nazi-occupied Paris, the German military governor of the city prepares to follow his orders and blow up the City of Lights. But before he does, the Swedish consul-general pays him a surprise visit to plead for mercy. You probably know the ultimate outcome, but director Volker Schlondorff (working from Cyril Gely's play) knows his way around a (mostly) single set, and he is blessed with two sensitive actors in Niels Arestrup as the governor and Andre Dusollier as the consul. Over the course of their wee-hours conversation, the bullish Arestrup sags and softens, while the gentlemanly Dusollier gradually reveals the cunning behind his tender appeals. Still, it's a pity Schlondorff didn't make more of his cinematic opportunities outside the hotel. A little supporting personality could have made the proceedings feel less like a smartly staged character study and more like a wartime drama. (2014) — Matthew Lickona
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