Frantz (2016) Poster

(2016)

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10/10
One of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen
richard-178711 October 2016
This movie threw me for a loop. It got a good review in the newspaper I read, and a friend invited me to go with her friends, so I did. I was not expecting to be overwhelmed by one of the very finest, most beautiful movies I have ever had the good fortune to see.

To begin with, this movie repeatedly throws you for a loop. You are sure you know where it's going - or at least I was sure - only to discover that you were wrong and the characters have something else in mind. I can't explain any of that without spoiling it for you, which I won't, but suffice it to say that this movie is full of surprises.

It is also full of great acting. Understated, yes, but very great nonetheless.

And the photography, often black and white, is wonderful.

It's hard to write much about this movie without spoiling it for those who have not seen it yet, which I most certainly do not want to do.

So I will close by saying that I sat entranced through the whole thing - and that is no exaggeration. If you enjoy great acting beautifully photographed and directed, you will love this movie.
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10/10
Between the World Wars survivors struggle with guilt and despair.
maurice_yacowar10 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The eponymous character is a cultured, pacifist, loving German young man whose doctor father urged him to fight for the fatherland. He gets the title because his spirit haunts the film — as the heroine Anna's lost love, as the Hofmeisters' lost son and as the kindred spirit his killer, the French solider Adrien, comes to love through his family and their memories.

Himself another cultured, pacifist, loving young man, Adrien seeks out Frantz's grave and family to seek forgiveness for having killed him, albeit in the trenches. As he is so much like Frantz he wins over Anna and Frantz's parents and in turn becomes properly enamoured with her. Though Frantz and Adrien only met in that fatal trench, the narrative posits them as potentially dear friends, perhaps even lovers. That potential was dashed by the war.

Adrien's relationship with Anna is based on his lie: that he was Frantz's dear friend, not his killer. When he tells Anna that truth she hides it from Frantz's parents, to spare them further pain and disillusionment. They cling to the illusion he will replace their son by marrying Anna and reviving Frantz' violin. To preserve their illusion Anna stays in Paris and reports living with Adrien.

In a sane world Frantz and Adrien would have lived the lie to which Adrien retreated: they would have met in Paris and become fast friends. They might've competed for Anna on an equal footing.

But not in this world. As Frantz's father reminds his war-mongering compatriots, fathers send their sons off to war. Though the nations blame each other, it's the fathers' responsibility when the lads are killed.

The film's most obvious theme is how war needlessly fractures the brotherhood of man. After the war the Germans still hate the French, the victorious French the Germans. The hatred renews itself. Set in 1919, the entire drama of renewal and loss plays out under our knowledge that WW II lies ahead. The German discontent and French complacency will shortly reignite with even more catastrophic consequences. If Frantz shadows the scene from the past, the next war looms in the future.

In addition to war, the film is about the equally difficult issues of how to live a full and honourable life. In peace as in war we're challenged to balance truthfulness with the empathetic lie.

Thus Anna tells Adrien she has revealed his lie and guilt to the Hofmeisters. But she hasn't, preferring to save them the renewed pain and another disillusionment. To the end she sustains their illusion that she is living a full life in Paris with Adrien, not wasting away in grief for their Frantz. Where Adrien's lie served himself, hers serves them.

The last scene promises a happy ending, her lie coming true, when she meets another version of Adrien, a fragile lookalike, in the Louvre. As young men on either side are interchangeable as cannon fodder in the war, young men can replace each other in civilian life when their mothers send them off to marriage. Tragically, Adrien doesn't resist his mother's assignment of Fanny, as Frantz couldn't resist his father's dispatch to war.

But with the spirit of life a heart can survive death and loss. A new love can replace a lost. Until the next war, of course, which could well make her a widow, him a casualty.

But that may be the film's most compelling theme: the importance of carrying on with hope and life. Hofmeister means master of hope. Through their mutual attraction Anna and Adrien snap each other out of their emotional paralysis, whether from guilt or grief. They bring each other to life. But as any war story inevitably requires compromise here they can't have each other. They have to settle for other mates.

From Frantz letter on to the visits to the Louvre, the film returns to the Manet painting, The Suicide. A pallid thin man flings back across the bed dead, evoking both Frantz and Adrien — and Anna, who tried to drown herself after losing her illusion of Adrien too. In Manet's image off a despairing passionate death Anna finds encouragement to live.

One of the film's strengths is its detailed realization of the period, not just in setting and costume but in conversation, tone, values and understanding. Especially in the black and white sequences, the film feels like a document of the 1920s, the period between the great, the terrible, wars.

The periodic suffusions of colour serve two functions: they provide an emotional heightening to those particular scenes and they remind us that the film is as much about today as about its historical setting. Perhaps today the bloody fractures involve different nations, and different cultures at war within any of our present nations. But the dashing of hopes and fidelities continues.
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8/10
Beautiful film with urgent message
rubenm21 September 2016
'Frantz' would be the perfect film to be aired by the bilingual Franco-German television station Arte. It's half German and half French. In fact, the film is about how these two countries come to grips with the aftermath of the First World War. There is a German and a French lead character, and both languages are spoken. This is unusual, but doesn't feel strange. The story starts in 1919, with a young widow visiting the grave of her fiancé, who died in France during the war. When she notices a Frenchman visiting his grave, she is taken aback. He presents himself as an old friend from the time the soldier studied in Paris. But little things reveal that this is not the whole story. Soon, the truth emerges and the story takes some surprising and moving twists. Acclaimed French director Francois Ozon has put a lot into this movie. It is an anti-war story, but also a bitter-sweet love story as well as a portrayal of a society suffering from a post war trauma. It is most of all an appeal for mutual understanding and rejection of prejudice. In this sense, the message is now more urgent than ever, in view of the growing support for populist and even racist politics on both sides of the Atlantic. The film is shot in beautiful and stylish black and white, perfectly capturing the elegance of the period. Ozon doesn't need any distracting subplots or flashy gimmicks, apart from the use of colour in a few scenes. I couldn't quite figure out the meaning of this. Some colour scenes are set in a different time frame, others seem to indicate the rare moments of happiness in a time that's full of grief and sorrow. The very last scene captures one of those moments in a wonderful way.
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8/10
A beautifully filmed essay about guilt, lies and loss in the between-wars era
CineMuseFilms4 May 2017
Nations reconcile after war but it is only people who can grant forgiveness. For many, it is an impossible grant that leaves wounds unhealed. This theme dominates the Franco-German film Frantz (2017), a psychological drama about a former soldier's personal quest for forgiveness. Filmed mostly in black and white, it is a poetically beautiful essay about guilt, lies, and tragic loss, set in the between-wars era.

The storyline is shaped by deep grief and national hatreds. In a small German village, Anna (Paula Beer) is grieving the death of her fiancé Frantz who was killed fighting in France. She visits his gravesite daily and one day finds that someone else has left flowers on the grave. A few days later she finds a stranger standing solemnly at the headstone and introduces herself to a brooding Frenchman called Adrien (Pierre Niney). They are soon in conversation and Anna is shocked to hear that Adrien had spent time with Frantz in Paris, sharing a love of music, art, and good times. Anna introduces Adrien to Frantz's parents who bitterly blame all French people for their son's death. As the parents hear Adrien share his grief and his memories of Frantz, a bond begins to form between all of them, at first reluctantly then warmly. But the mysterious Adrien is harbouring a tragic secret. Eventually he breaks down and confesses to Anna with whom a romantic attachment has developed. She immediately shuns him and he returns to Paris. Time elapses and she cannot forget him. Urged by the parents, she goes to Paris to find Adrien where she must confront a new loss and learn about forgiveness.

For audiences expecting an action-driven narrative, there little on offer in this film. The story moves forward in sombre but exquisite monochrome and often tense dialogue that is punctuated by a few scenes in colour as respite from melancholy. The performances of its four main roles are laden with emotion but stops short of melodrama. The principals Paula Beer and Pierre Niney give finely nuanced performances evoking the behavioural norms of the era. All performances are high-wire acts of emotion and dramatic tension: the pain on the parent's faces when they hear stories of their son is palpable and the tense suppression of Adrien's dark secret is electric. Anna's struggle between her loyalty to the cherished memory of Frantz and the possibility of new love is mirrored in the Franco-German struggles with blame, guilt, grief, and hope. As the relationship between Anna and Adrien strengthens there are several lyrical scenes of languid days enjoyed at the side of a pond that are composed like painting masterpieces and emblematic of the artistry brought to the making of this film.

Frantz is multi-layered with intense emotion that is explored at the personal and national levels. Truth is always the first victim of war and where truth fails, lies, promises and secrets take over. Frantz can rightly be described as an art-house feminist film. By taking Anna's viewpoint it encompasses universal themes of agency over victimhood that empower her to move on in her life.
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provocative
Kirpianuscus22 January 2018
First, because it is an Ozon. so, your expectations are well defined. second - it seems be familiar. your memories about "Broken Lullaby" are the basic clue. but, "Frantz" is different. special. surprising. yes, provocative. for motifs out of words. it is a love story. and more. it is a war film. and more. it is the story of a meeting and discover and family and clash between different cultures. and, off course, more. because all has the status of source for new steps on a way without rules, limits and forms of delicacy remaining unique. a film like one of yours memories. seductive. moving. discret . convincing. like an old song . or a flavour. so, an experience. fragil, strange, useful. about force and vulnerability. preserving not only the realistic images of a lost period but, in refreshing manner, its spirit. so, "Frantz". it is enough its title for define each aspect of this, in charming way, film.
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9/10
A delicate and restrained study of grief, guilt, love and forgiveness
nickywormald14 April 2017
I found this intensely moving in unexpected ways...yes, there were the conventional triggers of war, death, loss etc. but it was so much more complex than that. The choice of black and white seemed appropriate for the period, (other reviews have referred to some scenes being in colour, but I don't think I saw any color whatsoever...maybe I'm wrong) and reminded me of Japanese films made by Ozu which can also portray very deep emotions without anyone raising a voice. This was restrained, beautifully paced, and reflected a time when people held their feelings in, in order not to make others suffer more. I had no trouble finding the events and the behavior totally believable.

The end wasn't what I might have predicted, but it was so much more "right" than anything else could possibly have been. It was the sort of ending a confident director, who knows his characters, would give the audience. In my opinion, a beautiful film.
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10/10
Loving thy enemy
gailspilsbury20 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
François Ozon's latest movie Frantz packs in audience pleasers: superb black-and-white photography of spellbinding locations; nonstop suspense; brilliant character portrayals by Paula Beer as Anna and Pierre Niney as Adrien; the subject of war's pointlessness; the right or wrong of lies; and human psychology when it comes to love. This last and most compelling aspect of the movie, discussed below, is for a post-viewing conversation (i.e., this review may be a spoiler). The movie begins in Quedlinburg, Germany, after World War I, with the Hoffmeister family grieving for the loss of Frantz, Magda and Hans' son and Anna's fiancée. The three live together, Anna already like a daughter to Frantz's parents. Hans and the Germans in town bitterly hate the French for killing their sons. Frenchman Adrien Rivoire shows up to lay flowers on Frantz's grave and as a result meets Anna who brings him home to her surrogate parents. Over time, Frantz's parents come to love and cling to Adrien for his past friendship in Paris to their lost son. Adrien becomes a living embodiment of Frantz, keeping him alive for the parents. It helps that Adrien comes from the same cultured class as the Hoffmeisters—he formerly played violin in a prominent Paris orchestra. Adrien's last name Rivoire is too close to the French word revoir—to see again—not to have special meaning for Adrien's role in this story. Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Anna and Adrien's love presents the movie's most fascinating content. Adrien, caught in the difficult situation of meeting Frantz's parents (with the postwar Germans and French hating each other), weaves more and more lies about his friendship to their son. Adrien's a meek, malleable person, which becomes his character flaw in the end when he goes along with his mother's choice for a wife. He has no mettle, no courage, and chooses an easier path controlled by others. In Quedlinburg, spending time with the Hoffmeisters and learning about Frantz's past, Adrien becomes part of the family. When he finally confesses to Anna what really happened in the battle trenches, she's naturally devastated. But she doesn't reveal the truth to Frantz's parents—she spares them yet another grief, this one involving Adrian's travesty. Here the movie lets us ponder lies—Adrien's lies, Anna's decision to keep up his lies, and what the future will be for her maintaining and further developing them for the remainder of the Hoffmeisters' lives. Are some lies acceptable? To what extent? Can Anna ever live a fulfilling life if she perpetrates serious lies? So many people, so many families, live out their lives harboring such secrets and lies, and Anna's case is but one example. After Anna has learned the horrible truth from Adrien, she must begin all over in her nascent love for him, and succeeds. Once she has forgiven him—which entails understanding the stupidity of war, where one soldier in a trench has no choice but to kill his enemy or be killed—she allows her love to rekindle. But what shape and size is Anna's love? It's one of life's more mysterious forms, where the young woman loves the very person who killed her lover; it's a love that encompasses the killer's connection to the past love, a strange mix but real and food for thought. The same is true for Adrien: he loves the woman of the man he killed as if, again, Frantz's taken life can resurrect permanently through the new bond. It's a love triangle of a warped sort. The Hoffmeisters also want the Anna-Adrien union for the same reason—the men's supposed bond of yore joined to Anna now will keep Frantz forever within the living family. Weird, but not weird, precisely because love has so many faces. A few other points about the movie: The parallel structure of Adrien experiencing German hatred in Quedlinburg, and then Anna, in part two, experiencing anti-German behavior in France, works to emphasize the antiwar message. Plus we are told a few times that Frantz, like Adrien, was a pacifist. Indeed, his rifle in the trench where he died was not loaded. He would rather be killed than kill. The score by Philippe Rombi sets the mood for every scene and the film's nonstop suspense, but it never intrudes on the action. Its apt subtlety achieves perfection. Finally, at those rare moments where joy in nature or the good things in life occur, the movie switches to color, briefly, like the quick glows we all experience in life. Then the story returns to the black and white of the war's bleak aftermath, not unlike Italian neorealism except for the sumptuous quality of this movie's cinematography. Manet's painting Le Suicidé (The Suicide) comes up several times. It relates directly to Anna and Adrien's mental destitution about the truth of what happened to Frantz. However, it's not answered why this painting was one of Frantz's favorites, nor why Anna visits it at the end of the movie when she's embarking on her "freed" life in full blooming color. The man viewing the painting on the bench beside to her is just like Adrien—sensitive, effete, melancholy. Are the two sitting there before a depiction of suicide to show their contrast—Anna no longer tied to Frantz or the past and the man dealing with suicidal thoughts? Or, is it suggested that Anna's past will link these two strangers in an uncanny love? Will Anna connect to him because he's like Adrien, who in turn was the embodiment of Frantz? Love and human psychology are the tantalizing material of this film.
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10/10
A beautiful movie, full of unexpected turns
pyotr-323 April 2017
I could watch this movie a hundred times just to see the beauty that is in it. It may be the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. But it is much, much more than that. It is a fascinating historic film about a very important time and place that Americans know far too little about. And it is a romantic mystery. The actors in the film are among the best on earth and everything about "Frantz" is first-rate. But the reason that most people will love watching this film is because it is so full of twists and turns that keep the audience guessing. I doubt that anybody will ever predict how the film ends. After you leave the theater you will realize that the ending made sense, but you will never guess it ahead of time. I fell in love with almost every character in the film.
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9/10
Reconciling Truths and Lies, Light and Darkness
Raven-19695 March 2017
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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10/10
brilliant melodrama
bert-huys-242-3557557 October 2016
I go to the cinema to see often - two or three times each month - 'the better movies and no so commercial movies' and in 2016 Frantz was the best movie I have seen so far this year, by far! The brilliant narrative structure of this movie in black and white and the use of colour just at the right moments is something you should see for yourself. I like also the fact that the German people really talk German and that the French people really speak French. And with the black and with images you can feel yourself dropped back in 1919. François Ozon is such a diversified director. I have seen already his movies Sous le sable, Swimming Pool, 8 femmes, 5x2, Le temps qui reste and Jeune & Jolie. These are all very different movies. And as in all movies from Ozon he always tries to surprise us - viewers - with a twist in the plot. So the story line is never predictable, and in Frantz you never know what will happen next. All the actors we're splendid, and you really could feel yourself back in 1919. And the melodrama is the genre of movie I like so much.

This is my TOP 20 of (new) movies that I saw at the cinema in 2016: 1. Frantz; 2. Magallanes; 3. La Pazza Gioia; 4. An; 5. Juliana; 6. Tanna; 7. Hell Or High Water; 8. Les Innocentes; 9. L'Économie Du Couple; 10. El Olivo; 11. 45 Years; 12. Truman; 13. Carol; 14. Spotlight; 15. The Idol; 16. Slow West; 17. Eye In The Sky; 18. The Handmaiden; 19. The Hateful Eight; 20. The Revenant.
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Super story enfolded in history.
jdesando9 April 2017
"It makes me want to live." Anna (Paula Beer)

After viewing Manet's Le Suicide, protagonist Anna asserts her will to live despite the deaths from WWI and especially her fiancé, Frantz (Anton von Lucke). Up to this point director Francois Ozon has kept the mostly black and white melodrama in a state of mourning, relieved by the visit from a French friend from the war, Adrien (Pierre Niney).

A film of such classical pedigree, which was originally made by Ernst Lubitsch in Broken Lullaby, takes its time for dialogue to flesh out the ironies and plot twists emanating from Adrien's visit. His secrets will change Anna's life and that of her guardians, Dr. and Mrs. Hoffmeister. It is a film of depth that asks us to accept life's imperfections and our enemies.

Over all this deep drama lies the allegorical relationship between France and Germany: The Germans do not easily accept this French visitor, despite the fact he has come to honor his friend, because he reminds them of the humiliating German loss from that war (still a very proud people). As Anna learns the true nature of Adrien's visit, like Germany and France she is caught in the struggle of vengeance versus forgiveness.

We learn about the salutary effect of that forgiveness through a confessional scene, where the priest is able to express the hope that Anna can forgive Adrien just as the French must forgive the Germans. It's not a subtle subtext, but it is a powerful theme that dogs French and Germans to this day.

Frantz the movie will keep you thinking not only about the aftermath of WWI, but also of the ignorance most people have about the ones we love the most. Not all is as it seems, but like Anna we must choose life over death while we have the choice.

Although Le Suicide is a fine and pretty painting, life, including a new love, is the real subject for this film and our future.
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10/10
I'm not that guy...but
utes-7635913 July 2017
Look, I'm not that guy to write reviews of movies online, and I'm not that guy to watch a love story with subtitles. But quite by happenstance I watched this film, and I was blown away. I didn't think I was going to make it at first, to be honest, due too the pace. But Paula Beer (whom I've never seen before this movie) kept me watching. What a great actress for this role! By the movie's end I was wishing for more, begging the movie not to end. I sat and stared at the credits' scroll (words I couldn't understand in French) and listening to the music. It's that good that I stared in awe at the credit scroll!

I'll now go back to watching Mission Impossible and Bourne movies (more my style), but I'll always remember Frantz, and a part of me will always wish that I could experience it again for the first time.
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10/10
Innocence is the first casualty of war
biisuto3 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's 1919, immediately after World War I murdered of so many of Europe's young. In a small German town, the mysterious appearance of flowers on the grave of a young German soldier ignites the curiosity of his grieving fiancé, Anna (Beer) who finds them. When she tells the dead boy's shattered parents, they connect the flowers to the young Frenchman, Adrien (Niney), with whom the doctor had refused to speak because of his bitterness about the loss of his only son.

The story that unfolds is a fascinating vignette of side-by-side civilisations in the wake of incomprehensible barbarity perpetrated by and on each other's children, at the behest of their parents.

This is a massive story, elicited via the fascinating device of a haunted young man's search for redemption and a young girl's ability to contemplate it. The settings, costume and characters, coupled with the use of sepia film tones are highly evocative of the era and I felt utterly immersed in the enormous insanity of that four year crime, in whose shame-riddled aftermath the world was desperately trying to pretend there was a normalcy to which it could ever return.
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6/10
Worthy addition to everybody's body of work
Horst_In_Translation15 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Frantz" is a co-production between Germany and France and this also explains (apart from the story) that both languages are included to some extent in this almost 2-hour movie. Unless you are fluent in both languages, make sure you get a set of good subtitles. This one here is the newest work by BAFTA-nominated filmmaker François Ozon, one of France's finest for sure. The lead performances come from German actress Paula Beer and promising French actor Pierre Niney. And with this (already) award-winning film, both show their potential at times. Still, despite the solid performances, I see this film mostly as a writer's and director's piece for Ozon and this is how I would define it. It is the story of a young woman who meets a man with a mysterious reference to her late boyfriend. And with "late", I am referring to the fact that the film plays right after World War I, so over a century ago, and said boyfriend died in combat. But this is just half the film. When the female protagonist finds out exactly who the male protagonist is, it is far from over, but things actually get more complicated. Anyway, I personally guessed there may be a homosexual relationship involved between the two men, but I was very wrong with that. Talking about the main actors, I felt that Beer occasionally looked like a slightly rougher Rachel McAdams and this is also why sweetheart roles will probably never be her thingey. There has to be something dark and soulful to her characters, but that's perfectly fine. Niney on the other hand to me looked like a mix of Adrien Brody and one of the Boardwalk Empire actors whose name I cannot remember right now.

This film is (fittingly with the time when it plays) in black-and-white. However, there are some moments of color and Ozon used these mostly to show a promising, somewhat optimistic moment and when things got worse again or bleaker again, then he quickly returned to the standard black-and-white. It's personal preference how much you like his approach there. I myself thought it was okay without being too overwhelmed by this creative decision. The acting overall was fairly good. German audiences will see a handful familiar faces too, such as Johann von Bülow's for example. As a whole I enjoyed the watch. I was not totally impressed and I would not mention this as one of my favorites from 2016, but the film certainly had its convincing moments. I quite liked the singing in the French pub as this scene made it obvious for the main character to be an outsider as well while, for everything before that the French male character was the one on the outside. And I liked that Ozon did not go for a kitschy happy ending as there were admittedly here and there some scenes that were slightly kitschy already. But in terms of degree and quantity, it is all very bearable. The very last scene was an uplifting one and I guess the director wanted his audience to leave the theater on a positive note with a bit of a smile on their lips and not in a too depressing state, even if he had to sacrifice a bit of realism for a feel-good moment there. But honestly, the film could have become much darker even with the suicide of one of the two main characters that was definitely an option looking at how many times the suicide-related painting was reference. Okay, enough now. I enjoyed the watch and I recommend seeing it, especially if you like historic films about the first half of the 20th century or just German/French films in general. You will not regret the watch in that scenario.
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7/10
Lullaby Of The Lives
writers_reign25 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
One of the downsides of the world of Theatre and Film is the way it inspires journeymen to think they are capable not only of standing comparison with but actually eclipsing their betters and being encouraged by those who should know better. In 2011 we had the very lacklustre Terence Davies kidding himself that he could write a better version of The Deep Blue Sea than its onlie begetter Terence Rattigan and the fact that the resulting film was a joke did little or nothing to prevent the BFI genuflecting at the very mention of his name. Now we have Francois Ozon stepping into the ring with Ernst Lubitsch who, in 1932, turned out an exquisite film, Broken Lullaby, on the futility of war. Ozon, completely unable to lay a glove on Lubitsch, settles for shooting Paula Beer in solitude surrounded by vast, empty landscapes, which is of course nice enough to look at but remains light years short of the 'Ozon touch' to which he clearly aspires. In Ozon's favour there are probably thousands of film goers who won't be aware of Broken Lullaby and will therefore find Frantz half decent.
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10/10
Old story, new angle
emailbillphillips13 October 2017
What an awesome surprise. Saw that it was free streaming on Amazon Prime and took a chance. Watch the trailer, it will just want to make you see the movie even more. You think you know where the story is going, but then you don't.

It's about French/German relations after "The Great War." But, so much more. The theme? War is stupid, love is great.... what's new? Remember the name Francois Ozon, as a director. He will become one of the best known ever in the years to come.

And, remember Paula Beer, German actress, only 22 yrs. old when she made this. We'll be seeing a lot more of her. If she ever decides to do movies in English, look out Alicia Vikander.
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8/10
I love the change of Ozon
tedjiang28 January 2017
I am a big fan of Ozon. To me, watching his movie feels like there is always a dagger underneath the pictures, in a stunning and good way. Frantz changed my whole ideas about him, I love his changes.

Have you ever seen those Chinese paper cut before? They use scissors to create all wonderful flowers and animals from red papers. It is fragile, beautiful, your heart will go with the sharp edges and afraid the damages might happen. To me , this whole new 'Scissor' feelings of Ozon's movie is way more deeper and exciting than his old 'dagger' skills. The dagger is exciting and thrill, yet scissor brings more possibility.

I love the use of Korsakov's 'Scheherazade' in the movie. Scheherazade is trying to escape horrible killing might happened by telling colourful stories to the king. Using pretty stuff to escape the horrible reality might be the biggest achievement of arts. Even it is a painting about death.
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5/10
Wanna-be important WWI movie falls short
paul-allaer17 April 2017
"Frantz" (2016 release from France: 110 min.) brings a WWI-related story. As the movie opens, we are reminded that it is "Quedlinberg, 1919". We get to know a woman whom we later learn is named Anna. Anna is bringing flowers to the grave of Frantz, a German soldier she was engaged to but who perished in World War I. To her surprise, Anna notices that someone else also has brought flowers to the grave. It is not long before she finds out that a Frenchman is visiting the grave on a daily basis. Before too long, she meets and invites the Frenchman to meet her and the parents of Frantz with whom she now lives. Who is this mysterious Frenchman? What will become of Anna? At this point we are 10 minutes into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience. You'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments double: first, this is the latest movie from veteran French director François Ozon, and as a result, my expectations for this movie were quite high. Alas, it was not to be. This can be attributed to various factors: first and foremost, the movie deems itself quite important, but lacks the heft to prove it. The acting performances are mostly wooden, if not stilted, and you can practically hear the director's command for "Action!". By the time the Big Reveal comes midway through the movie, we should care a lot, but I found myself not caring all that much. That is unfortunate, and the movie simply cannot overcome that in the second hour. Along the way, the movie touches on the simmering resentment among Germans pertaining to the harsh terms of their WWI surrender, and the corresponding rising nationalism, but here again, the movie simply lacks in depth. On the plus side, the movie is mostly shot in gorgeous black and white photography (the flashbacks are in color). Bottom line: my high expectations for this movie were not met, and then some.

"Frantz" opened in US theaters this weekend, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at, was attended OK but not great. Given the pretty somber nature of the movie, I cannot see this playing long in the theaters. If you have a keen interest in WWI, you may wish to check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on Blu-ray/DVD. Just keep your expectations in check.
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10/10
It is as good as its awards from around the various festivals.
diane-3417 May 2017
Diane and I viewed this brilliant film yesterday at Fremantle's art cinema and we both shared the absolute same high regard for the wonderful film that we had just seen. The film was so rich in cinematography, dialogue, acting and scripting that both of us were totally absorbed in this cinematic experience. I am old to the point where I have difficulty following subtitles: either they are too quick so that I can't read them before they disappear or they are too small and in the wrong print colour for this film they were perfect. The print was not too small, too fast or the wrong colour so for an old guy the visuals were perfection personified. As to the substance of the film's script, the action takes place two years after the end of WW I and involves two soldiers who met during the war and the family of one of these soldiers after the war. The drama is intense and its intricacies are sobering and manifest. A film to anticipate and make every effort to attend.
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5/10
A merited yet unfulfilled pledge
pauliecorleone-726287 February 2017
The Good: Strong, unyielding performances were to be enjoyed by all - especially the ladies, and even more particular, Cyrielle Claire who graces our screens for mere minutes but still manages to demand our admiration all the same. The cinematography, in parts, is tremendous, with beautiful, natural backdrops and framing worthy of a master. The film starts off strong and with great promise; endless possibilities are spread before us, my expectations are rising, my excitement bubbling.

The Bad: The chosen music, albeit... atmospheric, is wholly unjust to the paired scenes, managing nothing more than to yank me right out of the fable's truth and set my mentality on murder-mystery film noir -- which 'Frantz' is not. On top of that, the pacing is all over the place. With the narrative circling itself around symbolic details and rushing past what needed to be a solid foundation for the supposed plot twists, we are being left with a hammered in, fatigued story, screaming out implausibility and limp emotive manhandling.

The Ugly: Somewhere in there, the potential for two really good movies withers away; two good movies we'll never get to see. Instead, we get a discordant approach towards presenting the expected in an unexpected way, with the pursuit focused on a subtly clever and stylish roundup where it should be driving to adequately relate and resonate with the viewer on a sentimental level.

My disappointment: Loss, sorrow, nostalgia, pain, grief, loneliness... I understand the need to develop a thematic tight bound that aims to impress; it's the ever-present creative strive for 'more', always there, always scratching away at the confines of any artist's imagination. But these are topics that don't always need to be brushed clean with refinement.

Borrowing and reapplying the words of T S Eliot, sometimes one's world ends "not with a bang but a whimper".

And that's okay.
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8/10
victims of war
dromasca12 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
'Frantz' is one of those films that follows you long after the screening is over. What I and maybe many other viewers of François Ozon's 2016 film will remember years from now will be the silhouettes of the two principal heroes - the beautiful German young woman Anna (interpeted by Paula Beer) whose lover, Frantz, fell on the front two months before the end of the First World War and the out-of-world French young man Adrien Rivoire (actor Pierre Niney) who is also an ex-soldier, has met Anna's lover some time in the past, and comes to put flowers on his empty grave and ease the grief of Anna and Frantz's parents. One may say that Pierre Niney is a miscast, and maybe this is true, but he is a miscast not as an actor, but in the world his fate was to live in.

Frantz himself gives the name of the film, as all characters are tormented by his absence, his falling in the war makes him the victim, but actually everybody in this film is a victim of the absurdity of the war. The film succeeds to present in a moving manner how destinies are cut short by war, and how difficult are healing, forgetting, forgiving. It also asks questions about the capability of humans to cope with the horrors of the past - can they do it while facing the truth which is sometimes more cruel than their imagination allows? Or maybe lies are allowed when they can help healing or avoid reopening fatal wounds?

Ozon's film also carries an anti-war message. The heroes belong to the two sides of a war that created devastation for both nations. One may have been victor, the other defeated, but both countries are in ruins, millions of lives were lost, the survivors continue to carry the scars of the war traumas but also the germs of hate that will be at the root of the next war. The symmetry of scenes and situations may seem demonstrative, but it's good to remember that blood, enmity and mistrust divided Europe no so long ago.

The film makes use of black and white for the majority of the time, with colors inserted in some key moments, without necessarily marking the borders between reality and imagination, past and present, truth or fiction. It was a very good idea in my opinion to avoid the trap of a happy ending and to leave more ambiguity in place, with a mysterious lesser known painting of Manet handling to the viewers the key to what may have happened next. Questions marks are relevant for both past and future.
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Beautiful if mellow masterpiece by François Ozon
rblenheim9 March 2018
Paris-born François Ozon is a filmmaker who has made a number of radical films in the French "New Wave" movement (a few shocking, some even salacious), probably the most popular being "Swimming Pool" in 2003. During the last few years this challenging filmmaker has begun to display a maturing without shedding his 'edge', reaching his artistic zenith in "In the House", one of 2012's finest films, but now "Frantz" may be his chef-d'oeuvre. Made just as Ozon was approaching 50, it displays not just maturity of the artist but a refinement, perhaps even a mellowing. Of course, the source material may have had something to do with it as it is loosely based on the 1932 Ernst Lubitsch Hollywood film, "Broken Lullaby". Set in a small town in Germany just after the end of World War I, the story deals with a young German woman (sensitively played by Paula Beer) who's fiancé had been killed in the war and the remorse felt by the French soldier (Pierre Niney) who killed him, but Ozon's visual style, patterned after Edouard Manet's painting, Le Suicidé, displays a sublime beauty of texture immeasurably aided by Ozon's decision to combine pristine black and white cinematography with muted color sequences. The result is a bittersweet love story conveying deep sorrow in every scene that provides an emotional experience that is almost an anomaly for the usually cynical Ozon. Praised throughout the world, especially for its cinematography by Pascal Marti, this is a film worth seeking out, even if somewhat conservative for such a celebrated French enfant terriblé.
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9/10
Simple, beautiful and true
gregflakus2 March 2018
This film is true in the sense that it portrays universal truths about human beings, their interactions and their effects on one another. The story, about a Frenchman who comes to visit the grave of a German soldier after World War I, is one that begins with a simple gesture and then takes us along for a ride through the fields of human longing.

Many of the people in the German town resent the Frenchman. They are bitter about losing the war and quite a few families there lost sons in the conflict. They do not treat him with hostility, but they are correct in their behavior, not friendly. The one person who does take to him is the sister of the dead German, whom the Frenchman claims to have known years earlier in Paris.

He establishes an endearing friendship with the parents of the dead German soldier, tells them what he remembers of their son and listens to their stories about him. Little by little we can see an attraction growing between him and the sister.

I will leave at that so as not to make a spoiler/ Suffice it to say that what he and the young woman discover through their friendship is a connection to the truth, not just in details about something that has happened and can never be taken back, but in the sense of learning about their own feelings and their own destinies.

The story is told in vibrant black and white for the most part and the cinematography is superb. The acting is also outstanding. There are no big emotional outbursts this movie, only subtle movements, glances and soft conversations that reveal all that needs to be revealed.

GMF
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4/10
Sentimental Kitsch
rock-me128 June 2017
After seeing the trailer I was genuinely interested in this film. I felt that World War I and the immediate post-war years are generally underrepresented in film, and the trailer promised a suspenseful romance/mystery.

My enthusiasm turned into disappointment after the first 30 minutes of the film. Cliché dialogues, which I thought to be a stylistic device at first, just became silly and repetitive. It seemed Characters constantly uttered melancholy lines and broke out into tears seemingly at random. The wooden acting did not help at all. In the end I actually found it quite upsetting that the suffering of World War I was being exploited for such a dull tearjerker.

The themes of European rapprochement after World War I and individual forgiveness had a lot of potential in my opinion, but in the way this film dealt with them, this potential was almost entirely wasted.
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7/10
Without color but rich in everything else
kosmasp2 April 2019
Not the second world war that is being used as a background here, but the first one. Which means there is no clear line that you can draw and say there are the bad Germans (for once). Then again, the way the behave around a french man who comes to visit a fallen soldiers family ... is really something and I reckon some may see seeds planted for what was about to happen later on in history and in Germany.

Having said that, not all is as it seems and there will be some surprises along the way. Some weird choices but also some understanding. Trying to get to know others and trying to give some people a peace of mind - for better or worse. And the truth is not always setting everyone free - and that ending "picture" ... well that is something beautiful, which is a word that quite a few have used to describe the movie overall.
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