She saw it in his eyes as he stood in front of her, his face almost touching hers. That’s when she saw it, says Inspector Ellen Berlinger (Heike Makatsch) to colleague Martin Rascher (Sebastian Blomberg) – that he’s capable of anything, even murder. Hannes Petzold (Klaus Steinbacher), a man in his thirties who seems to have been in a relationship with Charlotte Mühlen (Michaela May) for some time, is the person who gets so close to the Mainz commissioner. What Charlotte’s best friend Bibiana Dubinski (Ulrike Krumbiegel) doesn’t like at all.
The two best ager friends, twice as old as Hannes Petzold, couldn’t be more different: Charlotte lives a rather simple life, she is gullible. Bibiana is wealthy, lives in a white villa with a garden, and is not very trusting. She doesn’t have any friends either. Except for Charlotte, whom she met on a park bench some time ago when Charlotte’s new puppy pounced on Bibiana. Now the dog is dead. Cremated by the animal crematorium where Hannes Petzold has been working since he was released after six years in prison. And now Bibiana Dubinski is dead too.
“In his eyes” is the name of the third joint case of Ellen Berlinger and Martin Rascher, which Tim Trageser directed from a screenplay by Thomas Kirchner. The narration alternates continuously between the retrospective and the narrative level of the present. The transitions are sometimes so fluid that you sometimes have to reorient yourself in terms of time: past and present merge into one another.
Ellen Berlinger and Martin Rascher ask themselves several questions. Above all, she, Berlinger, is firmly convinced that it can only have been Hannes Petzold who killed the well-heeled, single Bibiana Dubinski. In this way, together with Charlotte Mühlen, whom Berlinger believes he threw himself at, he acquires the fortune. Dubinski once gave her friend Charlotte a spare key. Now this unequal “couple” is standing in the marbled entrance hall of the villa, the young animal cremator and the older single lady, when the inspector duo stands in front of the door and rings the bell. Petzold is indignant and reacts irritably to Ellen Berlinger’s questions and speculations until he gets so close to her that she thinks he saw it in his eyes.
For her, the moment of realization had arrived that she could no longer retreat from, she later said to Martin Rascher. He, Rascher, has not yet had this moment of realization, because the sometimes hypoglycaemic diabetic patient Dubinski, who probably died of an insulin shock, may also have had a kind of accident or have consciously accepted the lonely life, now that Charlotte have her gigolo, her husband for certain hours.
Just as “In his eyes” plays with the time levels, changing between yesterday and today throughout the film, it is completely open for a long time what this is about: Do we have a criminal case? the much more insecure Rascher asks himself. The relationship between Charlotte and Hannes Petzold is just as open: does he really love her? Or, conversely, is it really just about the filthy money? The screenplay and direction use this openness and ambiguity until shortly before the end, and thus do not create nerve-wracking constant tension, but rather a latent uncertainty that goes hand in hand with the question: What actually is truth?
Because: In his eyes, Ellen Berlinger saw something about Hannes Petzold – but what was there really to see? Isn’t what we see, what we want to see, always just the projection resulting from our perception? In all of this, this game of the open is reinforced by the always wonderful Heike Makatsch and her film partner Sebastian Blomberg with their very different yet appropriate presence. At the very end, there it comes again, the moment of realization – and Ellen Berlinger must be able to get behind it again.