Once again I was mesmerized with François Ozon’s creativity and originality; he took us to a small town in Germany after WWI was over. German’s antagonistic view of France and her français was apparent. Sons were killed.
Embed from Getty ImagesAnna’s (Paula Beer) fiancé – Frantz(Anton von Lucke) – was killed in the war, leaving Anna as a young grieving widow. Anna lives with her in-laws who treat her like a daughter. The father is a strait-laced family doctor, who remains deeply hurt of his son’s death.
Although Frantz’s body was never returned, Anna had setup shrine with a small plot of garden, which she tenders to everyday. One day while weeding she sees one stem of rose was left there…
She meets Adrien unexpectedly at the graveyard and she is told that Adrien(Pierre Niney) is a friend of Frantz, who both served their country (France and Germany). They quickly form a strong bond both using each other as a surrogate of their memories of Frantz.
Of course, there were more twists and turns here and there being Ozon’s film. Faithfully to his style and plot developments, he crafted Frantz with subtly, ambiguity and honestly. Even though he is French, he didn’t embellish how French soldiers fought and killed Germans, and German’s neither: their post-war augmented patriotism. Two countries, two bars and two national anthems squarely projected on the screen.
The black and white cinematography couldn’t be more appropriate and added a sense of relevancy to the film: era, time and mood. The sudden faded in to techicolour was transited at the right moment and time to give their effects: gleams of hope. Ozon didn’t only made a B&W film, he made a film in B&W dated back to 1950’s, it was almost like viewing and old B&W movie (I happened to have watched Diabolique (1955) recently).
Unfortunately, for those who shun subtitles this film will be worse. Ozon recreated a time and space as if we were among the characters, in other words, embraced the pure English subtitle or the French & English subtitles – translation from German to French. Don’t forget this is a French film.
The ending said a lot, but pay attention to its subtly, absorb the environment, seek the clue and you will find the truth. It’s sadly beautiful.