Drama/History/War – 2017 – France/Germany – 113 Minutes – Music Box Films – In French & German with English Subtitles – PG-13
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.
Directed by François Ozon
Starring Pierre Niney, Paula Beer
Frantz is arguably one of the straightest films Ozon has made – in both the dramatic and the sexual senses – but his complex sensibilities and fine-tuned irony are very evident in a mature work that transcends genre pastiche to be intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. – Screen International
Ozon is often at his best when working with women, and he has a fabulous talent in Paula Beer to bring his protagonist, Anna, to vivid life. She’s stunning in the role. – The Guardian
The way in which Ozon again uses mirror images, which reveal the similarities between the French and the Germans just after the war, or the way Fanny and Anna come to possibly mirror each other again suggest that a master storyteller is at work. – The Hollywood Reporter