The Baader Meinhof Complex

Rated 4.0

Director Uli Edel’s two-and-a-half-hour docudrama, adapted by the director with Bernd Eichinger and Stefan Aust from Aust’s book, isn’t the first film about members of the post-Nazi generation who were radicalized into West Germany’s lethal leftist Red Army Faction in the 1970s. But it might prove the most enduring. Edel’s approach is usefully immersive but sometimes incomprehensibly sprawling. It’s best when observing the journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), a mother of two who forsook her children to go underground with the urban guerrilla leader Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and his lover Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek), but also accommodates Horst Herold (Bruno Ganz), the wizened police chief who resignedly attributed their motivation to “a myth.” The movie is too procedural to romanticize, but doesn’t hesitate to eroticize its sexy and charismatic central players, because the very horror of seeing their group’s seductive ideological fury spend itself in a protracted spasm of violence is exactly the point.