I loved this foreign film. It is a “MUST SEE” which I think should be nominated for multiple A.A.s, including Best Foreign Picture, Best Female Actor, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. It’s essentially a French film, but spoken in German with English subtitles. It’s primarily filmed in black-and-white, although there are a few scenes filmed in color.
The movie is set very shortly after WW I, in the small German town of Quedlinburg. Anna (Paula Beer) was the fiance of Frantz (Aton von Lucke), who was killed about a year earlier on the battlefield. She is in mourning and regularly visits his grave. One day, she sees a Frenchman, Adrien Rivoire (Pierre Niney) at Frantz’s grave-site, paying his respects. She inquires as to why he is there, and Adrien informs her that he and Frantz were friends in Paris before the war. Anna then invites Adrien to the home of Frantz’s parents – Dr. Hoffmeister (Ernst Stotzner), and his wife, Magda (Marie Gruber) – where Anna has also been living.
There is, understandably, considerable hostility between the Germans towards the French throughout Germany. At first, Dr. Hoffmeister rejects Adrien, but Adrien soon wins him over with tales about himself and Frantz in Paris. (The scenes with Frantz are flashbacks, filmed in color.) There is also a strong emotional connection developing between Anna and Adrien.
I can’t reveal any more about the plot without spoiling it, but the Co-Writer/Director (Francois Ozon) has done a fantastic job, getting great performances from the four leads, especially the beautiful Anna Beer. The cinematography is exquisite (by Pascal Marti) and the choice of primarily black-and-white works well for the melancholy mood of the film.
It’s a powerful anti-war film, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with the message. It also has multiple other themes, including love, grief and mourning, truth vs. deceit, and forgiveness. It’s a film that will resonate with you long after you’ve seen it. I’d see it ASAP, since it probably won’t stay around long.