Two Germanys, an avenging spy, garish colors, bloody assassinations… Set in Berlin at the time of the fall of the USSR, the spy series with a pop GDR atmosphere is already appealing outside of German-speaking countries.
Berlin 1990, the Wall has just fallen. Kleo, an elite East German spy, is released from prison, released along with other political prisoners. She spent three years locked up, put in the closet after a successful mission. Its former leaders have denounced it; in prison, Kleo lost her baby. She is looking for those responsible, former dignitaries of a recently dissolved Stasi. In search of answers, above all, and revenge, too.
Because of his muscular (and murderous) interrogations, Sven, a policeman from the West takes an interest in his case. He had seen Kleo suppress a target during his last mission. No one had believed him at the time when he named the young woman as the culprit. He too seeks to understand who this woman is who does not appear on any file.
Created and produced in Germany, Kléo, released on August 19 on Netflix, is already enjoying international success. A recipe that takes five ingredients.
East and West Personified
Two Germanys, two characters. Kleo and Sven is the clash between East and West.
She, the daughter of an oil in the GDR, raised as an elite Stasi agent, played by Jella Haase, who juggles with ease the two faces of her character: a methodical and icy killer, but also a misguided young woman – Torn from her mother, she also lost her unborn child.
Him, a clumsy policeman in a flowered shirt, whom no one, not even his wife, trusts anymore. Rather loose and plagued by random obsessions, played by a frenetic Dimitrij Schaad.
When their meeting becomes a state issue (or even reunification?), they must learn to work together.
Kleo’s technique: inventive and meticulously prepared assassinations… With, however, unforeseen events that generate surges of violence. In particular in a formidable sequence of free fight between the floors and the mezzanine of a pavilion, skilfully staged. Kleo leaves behind a bloody trail, much like Uma Thurman’s bride in Kill Bill. Yet, as Sven reminds him, they had a deal: “We don’t kill anyone anymore. » Although, if you really have to…
Endgame for the GDR
In Kléo, the colors of the late 1990s are tangy, garish even. They impose themselves on the eye just like the socialist architecture on every corner of East Berlin, where only Trabants circulate. Or even the clothing styles and haircuts, meticulously reconstituted in a way Germany 83. An atmosphere synthesized by the character of Uwe, a kind of East German double of Dwight Schrute in The Office : improbable cut, straps and glasses in metal. Sociopathic tendency in addition for this agent of the Stasi.
Most East Germans, Kleo included, continue to firmly believe in the socialist ideal: the fall of the GDR remains for them a pious wish of the West, in no way a fatality.
Successful secondary characters
The Berlin of Kléo is populated by a gallery of colorful personalities, all with a story, like Kleo’s roommate, who convinces himself to be an alien sent to spread techno music among humans. With a small side Killing Eve, the majority of the antagonists are women. Kleo faces off against a double agent from the West, a former classmate (another overtrained spy), a fictionalized version of Margot Honecker and her purple hair – who would almost pass for a wacky villain here, far from the cruelty of the historical character.
A very effective scenario
The plot unfolds at a frantic pace, without downtime, like spy movies where people who shouldn’t meet fall on each other at the minute. Kleo and Sven are looking for a red suitcase, perfect macguffin which excites the passions. The baggage would contain a secret that could bring down the GDR, but it is impossible to know which one. Regardless, most characters chase after and tear each other apart to get it. And the timing of their encounters is never far from burlesque.
q Kléo, spy series created by Hanno Hackfort, Bob Konrad and Richard Kropf, Germany, 8 × 50 min. On Netflix.