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In 1919 Quedlinburg, Germany, a young woman named Anna is still mourning the death of her fiance, Frantz Hoffmeister, in the Great War while living with his equally devastated parents. One day, a mysterious Frenchman, Adrien Rivoire, comes to town both to pay his respects to Frantz's grave and to contact that soldier's parents. Although it is difficult for both sides with the bitterness of Germany's defeat, Adrian explains that he knew Frantz and gradually he wins Anna and the Hoffmeisters' hearts as he tries to connect with them. Unfortunately, Adrien and Anna discover the truth of his motives and things seem shattered for all. However, when Adrien leaves, Anna has her own struggles with the truth and her feelings until she sets out to find Adrien in France. With that, Anna has her own journey to make in more than one sense, even as they both realize that neither have easy answers to their complex personal conflicts with each other and the dead man linking them.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
At the grave of her fiancé, Anna is startled to find a strange foreigner overcome with emotion. Anna's curiosity leads her to find out more about this stranger, and deeper still as she begins to understand the nature of his visit. It concerns forgiveness and sympathy for the lives of others, yet also cowardice, suffering, war and dark secrets. A similar mix of emotions swirls within and around Anna. Lies as well as truths are revealed. It becomes difficult to tell one from the other. Anna and the foreigner, Adrien, attempt to reconcile the truths with the lies, and the light with the darkness. This is done not merely through words, but with the way the wind moves through the trees, chords of the piano and violin, an unexpected swim, a beautiful view from a hill top, and more.
Part of the magic of the film is in the way it reveals how we are all as vulnerable as Anna and Adrien. There are dark secrets in all of us that may be turned to love, or perhaps other way around.
Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon obscured by mist, I felt a wave of emotion as the fog lifted and I could see the whole chasm – a mile deep and ten miles across, open in all its color and depth before my eyes. I felt a similar wave of emotion as this film shifted back and forth from black and white to color. Later I talked with a couple who disagreed. They thought the color shifts were too obtrusive and told them what to think. Yet good story tellers, as Ozon surely is, will toy with emotions in this way. I thought the shifts and cinematography were wonderful. The film characters are appropriately complex. The plot takes intriguing twists and turns. Themes include an anti-war element that Ozon deals with subtlety and adeptly. He doesn't rub our faces in it. The film is set in Germany and France in the aftermath of World War I, yet the themes are just as poignant today. The war is over, didn't you hear?! Languages and settings shift between German and French. Seen at the Miami International Film Festival.
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