Movie Review: "Frantz"
John Thomas, Movie Critic
A small German town at the close of WWI. Everyone is depressed and in mourning for the lost war, lost loved ones and lives. Anna (Paula Beer) pays daily visits to her fiancée’s (Franz) grave site, returning to his parent’s home only to face more anger, sadness and frustration. One day she notices a small bouquet of flowers that had been left at the gravesite earlier in the day. She eventually confronts the Frenchman Adrien (Pierre Niney), the person who has left the flowers.
In spite of the hostile feelings between residents of the two countries, they eventually become friends. Adrian mentions having known Franz during the war, and too mourns his passing. This leads to his visiting Franz’s home and parents, who grudgingly accept Adrien into the family - his being French and all.
But, it’s not all as easy as it sounds. There are secrets to be kept, webs of intrigue to be woven and lies to be told. The spinning of webs continues uncontrolled until the sudden disappearance of Adrien. Feeling yet another loss, Anna, at the encouragement of her adopted family, sets out to find Adrien with the hope of lessening the additional pain his departure has generated in their lives.
She travels to Paris to find Adrien because, over their brief time together, he has also become a love interest for her. Unfortunately for her, he has left the city.
She finally discovers his whereabouts - a place and situation completely unexpected to her. She stays the night at his home, departing for Germany early the next morning to take up the continued spinning of webs, perpetuation of secrets and now, adding additional layers of lies.
Everyone believes they are living happily ever after - except for Adrien and Anna, who now shares his terrible burden.
It is a sad story, but told so beautifully by a skilled director and his colleagues, that the sadness becomes melancholy beauty. “Franz” may be another WWI story, but is so compellingly presented that it seems fresh, new and is completely engaging.
This story is reprinted from original version written during the Venice Film Festival, 2016.