Man Geistliche can also imagine himself as a debt counselor, as an insolvency administrator. People come to them who have thrown themselves or the course of time off course. who are desperate. For whom everything grows over their heads. Who would do anything to get their lives back. Or at least not to have destroyed that of their children too much. Who need absolution. A way out.
The particularly hard cases, as ex-Catholics like to think of it, sent God’s debt counselor straight from the confessional onto the Way of St. James. The goal was always clear. Santiago de Compostela. And self-discovery. And deliverance from all sins. The start doesn’t. It could be more or less anywhere in Europe. He could also be in Frankfurt an der Oder.
So on a presumably hot summer’s day somewhere in Brandenburg a dead man lies in a picturesque sand pit. He was shot. He has a strange otherworldly smile on his face. The pathologist puts it down to gravity. The inspector lying down next to the corpse has a completely different idea. The Way of St. James passes less than five hundred meters.
The commissioner wears a ring on a chain around his neck. The suit is black. The pants are too short. The shirts have a star pattern and are pretty tight. Kajal shadows his eyes. There’s definitely something pastoral about him – you’ll find out at some point that he paints his toenails in a chic way, but that doesn’t spoil the impression.
If one could wish for a debt counselor, Vincent Ross would have to be. Vincent Ross is the empathy monster among the detectives of Sunday night crime films. That doesn’t take much. The fact that he does it with such ironically grounded verve, the empathy for the other person, is pure relaxation even for skeptics of empathy.
A particularly wise decision by the Sunday night crime film gods has brought André Kaczmarczyk to the campfire of public broadcasters as Vincent Ross. He’s also very different in the theater, he can dance, he can also be evil, he’s very good at mass murder.
In the German-Polish Border Commissariat, which he has now taken over on his own after the departure of his macho-monomaniac colleague Raczek (Lukas Gregorowicz), he is the gender-fluid understanding of human nature, whose oddities, oddly enough, everyone likes.
Once in his first solo case, called “The God of Bankruptcy,” Vincent sits next to Rogov, the colleague who ran up to him next to the corpse on the Camino de Santiago like a mangy dachshund.
Rogov (Frank Leo Schröder) is overzealous, nobody likes him. He used to be a commissioner, now he’s solving cases of escaped dachshunds in Lebus, which you have to imagine as a desolate Brandenburg town. Rogov’s career is bankrupt. Vincent gives him a second chance, which insolvency administrators are reluctant to do.
Everything has to change
Rogov stuffs himself with doner kebabs. He brought one with him for Vincent and is grateful that someone is giving him a second chance. You can see Vincent getting sick just looking at the skewered bun. He’s probably vegan. And then Rogov asks him how someone like him, that is Ross, got into the police force in the first place. “Because everything has to change,” he says. And Rogov wishes him a lot of fun with it.
But now we must gradually come to the fall. When the mean Sunday night detective film is called “The God of Bankruptcy”, those who despise Sunday night detective films start rubbing their hands at the cliché density to be expected. And start tweeting before your fingertips have even started to glow.
You can give yourself that this time. The background to the murder, which the Brandenburg-Polish police department has to clarify, is debt, greed and the possibility of being blackmailed. But the case – Mike Bäuml’s screenplay is a concentrate of true bankruptcies – keeps away from templated explanatory bear dialogues, cheap moralizing and cheap criticism of capitalism. Is an intensively played soul game.
The smiling dead man from the Way of St. James was desperate. And he was broke. His insolvency administrator had made his life hell. His name is Udo Schick. Bernhard Schir plays him with a carnivorous inner turmoil that actually only he can manage. Schick lives with Jonathan Hueter.
He’s practically a debt counselor. He is also an empathy monster. He talks and talks and talks, it is said several times. He chews you through, it is said several times. And then he spits one out again. And look, as cold as you can, at what’s left of the bankruptcy. Godehart Giese, who really no longer has to be recommended as an actor, recommends himself with this “police call” for all ambivalent monsters of the future German true crime series industry.
It’s very slow. Director Felix Karolus keeps up the pace of the pilgrimage as he goes into the interior of the desperate, who will do everything, sacrifice everything, to get out of the debt trap for their descendants. Sebastian Pille’s music gently tells the actual story.
The Way of St. James, as everyone knows at the latest after they have read Hape Kerkeling’s “I’ll be gone”, is not just for personal debt settlement. But above all self-discovery. The Brandenburg “police call” has already taken a huge step forward.