Hot on the heels of the injustice tale
Adapted from the influential 16th century German novella but set now in France, the film chronicles the escalating methods taken by an honorable horse merchant (Mikkelsen) to seek recompense for a cruel baron's horse thievery. Faced with corruption, Kohlhaas stirs the peasants to embark with him on a campaign of bloody retribution with lasting consequences for his family, livelihood and belief in the rule of law.
It's a strong story of lonely, even futile righteousness, which makes the plodding execution by director Arnaud des Pallierès somewhat mystifying. A sense of indirect engagement with the material hovers over the proceedings, save a piercing moral debate about duty between Kohlhaas and a pastor (
The real disappointment, though, is how checked-out Mikkelsen seems, content to rest on his naturally brooding, matinee stoicism when the movie could have used a jolting central performance of the kind Max von Sydow regularly provided for Ingmar Bergman.
"Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas"
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes.