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Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, (1914-1918), Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war s lost generation : Anna (21 year-old Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney, Yves Saint Laurent), a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz s grave. Adrien's presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks. What follows is a surprising exploration of how Ozon's characters wrestle with their conflicting feelings - survivor s guilt, anger at one s losses, the overriding desire for happiness despite everything that has come before, and the longing for sexual, romantic and familial attachments. Ozon drew his inspiration from Ernst Lubitsch s 1932 drama Broken Lullaby, with stunning visual references to painter Caspar David Friedrich.
Exquisite and haunting...one of the talented director Francois Ozon's very best films. --Dennis Dermody, Paper
NYT Critics' Pick. Lyrically seductive. --Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive. It is impossible to deny the sheer narrative sophistication. --Eric Kohn, Indiewire
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The story is a tragic one. Set in Germany and France just after the end of World War I, “Frantz” we learn early on is the name of a German soldier who has died in the war. He was engaged to Anna (Paula Beer) who is now living with his parents. One day a Frenchman (Pierre Niney) shows up and visits Frantz’ grave although sadly he has been buried somewhere else with others whose bodies were not returned to their homelands.
Beer and Niney, along with the others actors, give nuanced, sensitive performances. (And it doesn’t hurt the film that both of them are easy on the eyes.) Although we figure out fairly soon some of what has happened, there are certainly enough twists in the plot to keep your attention.
The message is clear but sad: wars are fought by the young. But of course they are not the only victims. There also wives and husbands and children, parents and grandparents who also bear the sorrow of war. (In a particularly poignant scene Frantz’ physician father reminds his friends who also have sent sons to war that they sent them off to die.) The film also has something to say about hope and certainly love. It illustrates perfectly the line from W. B. Yeats’ haunting poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”: “Those that I fight I do not hate.”
I left the theatre wishing that more movies of this caliber were being made.
The black & white cinematography left nothing to be desired and was as visually rich as any film in color. The music was touching, tender and classically romantic with background pieces that included Tchaikovsky and Chopin and spoke to the heartbreak and loss of the characters in this fine film. Highly recommended. And have at least one tissue at the ready at the end. Highly recommended!
While the film begins with overwhelming sadness, where the characters see their lives altered beyond what they can bear, hope and reconciliation gradually change the lives of Hoffmeister family, Anna and Pierre Rivoire. In the end, Anna expresses the change she has undergone by saying she wants to live rather than holding to the idea her life ended with the death of Frantz. One scene that was particularly poignant takes place in a café where several men of the village where the Hoffmeister’s live recount the sons that they lost during the war; none of them had been spared. The scene brings to bear the loss and shock loss that we are numbed about when reading that, for example, a million men died during the battle of the Somme.
I found Frantz utterly moving and very engaging. It is the kind of film that I would like to experience more than once.
the use of color sparsely throughout was probably the most special and most touching component. it aided the film's ability to make my heart soar, and then sink, and then soar again.
at first, i doubted my ability to suspend disbelief around the time period ... but it was so well done, every detail thought through, that within a matter of minutes it was as if i myself was living in that village, nearly 100 years ago.
this film - as well as the feeling i'm left with now - makes *me* want to live.