Film Review: Frantz

François Ozon’s Frantz is an absorbing drama. The film is beautifully photographed, and features a fine central performance.

Following the end of World War I, German Anna mourns the death of her fiancé. Visiting the cemetery, Anna meets a mysterious Frenchman who is also laying flowers on her fiancé’s grave…

François Ozon is known for working within a number of genres, yet here with Frantz he excels himself. The film is a post-war drama, with accents of mystery and romance. Based on Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken Lullaby (which itself was an adaptation of a play), the film focuses on the themes of grief and guilt. Frantz is at times moving, at times tense, but always engaging.

The film operates in a two-part function. The first half is more faithful to the source material, offering a burgeoning companionship between Adrien and Frantz’s family. The second half offers a reimagining of the story. The story transforms from one of grief and recovery, to one of guilt and longing. The attitude towards Adrien in the village seems believable, but this does not negate from the discomfort it produces. Although set almost a hundred years ago, unfortunately these events do not feel dated.

The positioning of Anna as the protagonist is a wise move. Her point of view is the most interesting one, crossing the divide between Adrien and the Hoffmeisters. In the second half of the film in particular, Anna’s story takes on a more significant dimension. The finale of the film is finely executed, giving thought-provoking perspective to what has gone before.

Cinematography in Frantz is excellent. Pascal Marti photographs the film beautifully. The black and white/colour combination works very well, particularly when the two blend into one another. Paula Beer is wonderful as Anna. Her performance evokes sympathy, yet she is  a strong and stoic central character. Pierre Niney is also good as Adrien.

Frantz visually appealing, with a well-crafted narrative. Ozone’s film is a very rewarding watch.

Frantz is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 10th July 2017.

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