Siggi is in prison during the post-war period. He should write an essay. He remembers that his father was supposed to ban his profession from a friend who was a painter. Siggi should help him, but he rebelled.
I didn't read the original novel, so the story was completely new to me. It is a wartime movie, with a village policeman (initially) forced to prohibit his friend from painting; common practice in Nazi Germany. But the story has many levels: it addresses the conflict of a father/son relationship (with the painter competing for that role) the battle between good and evil (how can any painting be bad for society?), how do we deal with populism in our own age, how can it be that hardened war criminals simply return and continue as before...?
The backdrop of the German coast, with constant rain torturing the characters, complements a very intriguing story that forces the viewer to continue to watch.