True art survives totalitarianism and never lets itself be tamed by conformism, as long as the artist maintains their freedom of perspective. This is the underlying message of Never Look Away by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who returns to the big screen eight years after the disappointing The Tourist and 12 years after his extraordinary exploit The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Never Look Away does engage its audience, despite having a three hour eight-minute-long runtime (spare a thought for the operators who will have to schedule it…) and being a bit too simplistic, explanatory and didactic. It’s clear that von Donnersmarck intended this film to be watched by a young audience, to whom he can pass on his interpretation of a fundamental moment in recent history. The important thing is to “never to look away.”
Camillo De Marco, Cineuropa.org