THE TITLE of The German Doctor provides a strong hint to what will happen within—and when the words "Argentina, 1960" pop up onscreen, it's practically a spoiler for even the most casual fan of World War II history. The titular "German Doctor" is obviously one of many escaped Nazi war criminals who fled Germany after the war to find refuge in Argentina. Now the only question remaining is "Which particular Nazi doctor are we talking about?" And while there were probably thousands operating during the war, for the amateur historian, there's really only one.
On the long, dangerous road to their newly acquired hotel/home, a family agrees to allow a suspicious stranger (Àlex Brendemühl) to follow them. He claims to be a veterinarian, but shows a peculiar interest in one of their children, Lilith (Florencia Bado) who has mysteriously stopped growing. The doctor not only convinces the family to let him move into their hotel, but insinuates himself into other aspects of their lives; funding the father's doll-making business, treating Lilith's growth problem, and prescribing medication for the mother, who’s pregnant with twins. (Bells should now be ringing loudly for you history buffs.)
The German Doctor plays like a horror film, even when nothing horrific materializes. It's steeped in suspense, while seeking to offer subtle theories on why the Argentinean government and its people welcomed these Nazi criminals into their country. And it also expertly dances on the fine line of character—presenting an unreformed gentleman monster who sincerely believes his monstrous acts are for the benefit of society.
Knowing the identity of this doctor so early in the proceedings ultimately deadens the suspense—and the more history you know, the less the ending will surprise you. But as a sociological/psychological thriller, The German Doctor is still a subtle, thoughtful reminder of the monsters who live within.