Calling all film buffs! François Ozon’s latest film, Frantz, is arriving in American movie theatres on Wednesday 15 March! Starring actors Pierre Niney and Paula Beer, this surprisingly classical film takes audiences back to Germany in 1919.
Forewarned is forearmed: it should be noted that Frantz is a quite disconcerting work. Other than the occasional scene filmed in color, the movie is presented in black in white, and almost entirely in German. However, it’s worth the effort because this particular style of black and white is incredibly modern. What’s more, the film is split into two parts — the first takes place in Germany and the second in France — and offers a masterful lesson in filmmaking, in which red herrings, mirror effects and subterfuge keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Frantz is loosely based on an American movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1932, Broken Lullaby, which in turn was the adaptation of a play of the same name written in 1925 by Maurice Rostand, son of the writer Edmond Rostand. The characteristic shared by these three works is the young French soldier, Adrien, played by the excellent Pierre Niney in Ozon’s film. As many are aware, the actor is a member of the prestigious Comédie Française. Following the 1918 Armistice, Adrien travels to Germany to visit the family of a soldier killed in the trenches. Upon meeting his devastated parents and fiancé, Adrien reveals that he and Frantz were incredibly close.
While initially unwelcoming towards the young Frenchman — who is still officially an enemy of the nation — the parents gradually warm to him, to the point of treating him like their late son. The young fiancé in mourning (played by the sublime Paula Beer, whose talent is revealed in the film) also takes to the mysterious Frenchman. She notices his efforts to comfort her parents, recounting countless, happy anecdotes about life in Paris and his friendship with Frantz before the war. The movie offers an astonishing vision of cowardice topped with an analysis of pacifism, while paying homage to women during times of war. An ode to life and to forgiveness, against the backdrop of tarnished Franco-German relations.
Watch the trailer: