added: Mon, Feb 20th '17
Francois Ozon, the acclaimed French writer-director of "Swimming Pool," "Young & Beautiful," and "In the House," is back with a new thought-provoking mystery drama, "Frantz," which is set in post-WWI Germany and filmed in crisp black and white.
In what is essentially a loose interpretation of the classic 1932 German film "Broken Lullaby" from legendary filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, Ozon offers his take on a tale about a guilt-racked French musician haunted by the horrors of war who finds himself in a small town in Germany grieving over a fallen German soldier he once knew. Ozon also seemingly adds a romantic mystery bent to what is otherwise a story about reconciliation and absolution.
French actor Pierre Niney, star of the biopic "Yves Saint Laurent," plays said guilt-ridden Frenchman, while German actress Paula Beer stars as the widow of the dead soldier. Her character strikes up a sympathetic friendship with Niney's dejected Frenchman, much to the displeasure of the German locals.
"Frantz" premiered to glowing reviews last year at both the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals. The film is currently nominated for 11 Cesar Awards (the French Oscars). The movie will be making its way to U.S. theaters next month, opening in New York on March 15th with other cities to follow. Watch the U.S. trailer, above.
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 fiance, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney), 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 Francois Ozon
starring Pierre Niney, Paula Beer
release date March 15, 2017 (NY; other cities to follow)