Frantz

Watched: 19 August

François Ozon’s latest is a sombre tale set between Quedlinburg, Germany and Paris after the end of the First World War, and apparently a remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken Lullaby, which I’m afraid I haven’t seen. Frantz presents a Germany that is coming to terms with military defeat, and families who are counting the cost of war, with the sole community depicted in the film still reeling from the huge loss of life. ‘Frantz’ is the name of a dead German soldier, a man who died an ignoble death in a trench, and he is mourned by family members and his fiancée Anna (an impressive Paula Beer). A mystery gradually begins to play out: why would Frenchman Adrien (Pierre Niney) seek out Frantz’s grave to pay a tribute? Ozon suggests a gay relationship may be at the root of it, but equally that may not be the case; either way Anna in particular is drawn to this stranger, as he can provide answers as to Frantz’s fate as well as possibly some kind of romantic future. It’s handsomely shot in black and white by Pascal Marti, who won the César for Best Cinematography earlier this year, while the tone and subject matter feels concomitant with Ozon’s other work as well as, occasionally, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. (***½)

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