TAKING SIDES achieves what so many other attempts at exploring the extremes of the human psyche under duress do not. That nether land of doubt that exists when aftermath 'truths' can only be postulated and not proved is the fodder from which writer Ronald Harwood (who also wrote 'The Pianist') has created a terse and tense examination of the investigation by the Allied Forces of Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. Was he a Nazi sympathizer or a protector of Jews during the Holocaust? Director Istvan Szabo maintains the format of the original play to keep the story confined to the interrogation room, straying only momentarily to develop the characters of this quasi-trial. Stellan Skarsgard is extraordiarily fine as the controversial Furtwangler, even taking on his body language and conducting moments to the realist edge. As the Allied Forces interrogator Steven Arnold, Harvey Keitel is brilliant - seethingly angry, a hell-bent Major who refuses Furtwangler any semblance of respect. Assisting Keitel are his secretary Emmi (in an astonishingly fine performance by Birgitt Minichmayr) and an Allied observer David (the equally fine Moritz Bleibtreu), a Jew who still holds the subject Furtwangler in deep respect. But the magic is in the duets by Keitel and Skarsgard, sparring with personal venom and personal despair. We are not given a decision as to the truth of Furtwangler's investigation, but we are told the results of the interviews. All of the music is Beethoven and Schubert and Bruckner (the use of the Adagio from the Bruckner Symphony No. 7 is especially eloquent and meaningful) and is played from recordings by Furtwangler and the Berlin Philharmonic as well as by Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle of Berlin. This film is every bit as fine as the author's film of his THE PIANIST, but for some unknown reason it simply opened and closed in the theaters without making the impact it so justly deserves. Highly recommended on every level.