Some films pack a punch because of the script’s subject matter and direction. But those that genuinely transcend do so based on an actor’s performance. One such film that is making waves is Germany’s “In The Fade,” opening this week. Diane Kruger stars as aggrieved widow Katja, in a complex and riveting role that has already garnered her a Best Actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, as well as a Golden Globe nomination.

Family happiness turns to pain for Kruger’s Katja

Told in three chapters, “Family,” “Justice,” and “The Sea” co-writer and director Fatih Akin (“The Edge of Heaven,” “The Cut”) concocts a hard-hitting tale inspired by the 2011 murders of immigrants by the German National Socialist Underground.

Opening on a jailhouse, loving marriage ceremony between German Katja and Turkish Nuri (Numan Acar), the film flips forward in time to the now respectable couple and their violin-playing son Rocco (Rafael Santana). Life is good until a terrorist bombing kills Nuri and Rocco, ultimately shattering Katja’s life.

Although family and friends try to be supportive, Katja is inconsolable. She seeks justice in a system that wants to pin the deaths on easy targets – drugs, Turkish gangs, or corruption. Certainly, there’s no reason to look at upstanding German citizens. Or is there?

Akin, Kruger, and co-writer Hark Bohm

Akin remarks in his film’s production notes that he was interested in the concept of revenge.

“Who would actually seek vengeance?” Akin continues, “This film is about that universal feeling of grief and its many layers… [Yet] Katja embodies something dormant inside of us that should always remain dormant.” Collaborating with lawyer/co-writer Hark Bohm, Akin, and Bohm craft not only the complexities of Katja’s strife but also the powerful courtroom sequences between the mournful and enraged Katja and the defendants.

‘In The Fade’ short-listed for Best Foreign Film

“In The Fade” has already landed on the short list of nine films slated to compete for Oscar’s Best Foreign Film. But with the film’s release on Wednesday, the film is poised to make noise for Academy voters also to take note of Kruger’s courageous performance. Akin confirms the notion by remarking in the film’s production notes, “What makes [Kruger] such a great actress is that she’s fearless and curious. She will try anything.” “In The Fade” is undoubtedly Diane Kruger’s film and her performance will be one to remember.

“In The Fade” is 105 minutes, Rated R and opens December 27 in select cities.