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film review

Paula Beer excels as the sensitive Anna in Frantz.Jean-Claude Moireau

Inspired by a French play and a Hollywood movie from the 1930s, director François Ozon does an imaginative update of this historical drama about the human cost of the First World War. Paula Beer excels as the sensitive Anna, a mournful lass who catches a delicate youth (the sympathetically effete Pierre Niney) placing flowers on her dead fiancé's grave. Apparently, this mysterious French visitor to a distrustful small town in vanquished Germany knew Frantz in Paris before the war. Moving between black and white and a soft colour palette with great originality, Ozon weaves a compelling tale of national tragedies and private griefs. His insistence that the French story mirror the German is overdone, with parallel scenes of spontaneous nationalist outbursts, and his third act, which takes Anna to Paris, is less plausible. Still, a fine bilingual cast, haunting period detail and a provocative approach to a twisting story carry the day.