Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Marc Rothemund's fact-based Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a riveting portrait of a young woman of formidable intellect, dogged self-possession, and excruciatingly steady nerves. At 21, Sophia Magdalena Scholl (Julia Jentsch) is old enough to have outgrown the brash overconfidence of immaturity, but not too old for the purity and ardor of youthful idealism.
She is pitted against Nazi interrogator Robert Mohr (Alexander Held), a savvy, tough-minded professional who suspects, but does not have decisive proof, that Sophie is involved in anti-Nazi resistance. His interrogation of her becomes a battle of wills between a vibrant young heroine and an older, more experienced opponent.
Sophie is one of a very few screen heroes (Paul Scofield's Thomas More is another) who makes heroic goodness not just admirable, but attractive and interesting. (One may admire and respect Falconetti's Joan of Arc, but how much would one enjoy being her friend?) Sophie is not simply good and brave (though how good and brave she is). She is an ordinary university student, a biology major, an intellectual who enjoys music and philosophy. She is no social discontent or misfit; her exceptional heroism has nothing to do with psychological needs on her part and everything to do with the pathologies of the world in which she lives.
Though it is clear beyond a certain point how things will play out, the final scene still comes with a shock. Thomas More at least was allowed some dignity and ceremony to the end; he was permitted his final words, and he laid down his own neck before the executioner's blade. Sophie is afforded no such dignity. In the end, the masks that she and her opponents have worn throughout much of the film are stripped away, and there is only only naked evil and naked virtue, unmasked forever, even if one of the two sides hasn't yet noticed.
—Steven D. Greydanus