Sundance 2017 Film Review: “Frantz” (2016) ★★★★★


During war anything can happen: a soldier kills another soldier, bullets fly back and forth to catch its target, bombs destroy houses while the human soul continues its endless suffering. But one man will visit a family of a young man whose life he has taken, to learn that even an apology won’t help to ease the ache in the heart and desire to change the fate of a day that for him changed the meaning of life itself.

François Ozon’s FRANTZ follows a young German woman Anna (Paula Beer) who grieves the death of her fiancé Frantz who lost his life during WWI. During her visit of Frantz’s grave, she meets a mysterious man named Adrien Rivoire (Pierre Niney) who also visits Frantz’s grave to lay flowers. Soon, after bringing him to Frantz’s house where she introduces Adrien to Frantz’s parents, the young man begins sharing his beautiful memories of Frantz during their friendship in Paris. However, the burden of loss and the pain the man carries on his shoulder does not allow him to remain quiet anymore, as a result of this a shocking confess comes right after…

Anna seems to still be unable to move on after Frantz’s death, as she seemingly struggles every single day. Frantz parents, Doctor Hans Hoffmeister and Magda HOffmeister try to help her as much as they can. However, it’s the appearance of Adrien who makes her memory of Frantz to flourish though the stories he shares that happened in France. As the story unfolds, you find out that both Adrien and Frantz shared the same passion – both loved playing the violin and played so beautifully. One day at dinner, Adrien agrees to play the violin, that eventually makes his emotion to come out in an unexpected way.

There is something genuinely beautiful about FRANTZ. Is it because it’s filmed in black-and-white format, or the unique approach of Ozon, or the performance of the actors, the pace of the movie so slow like in real life where you simply follow it wherever it takes you. Anna is an incredibly rich character who has so much to tell us about herself. Adrien is the same, even bigger and more interesting. They both have so many things in common, but the way and its aftermath is what makes them to keep apart whether they want it or not. At some point, when Adrian tells her the truth that was killing him from the inside, Anna makes a decision that only a kind-hearted person would have made. And Frantz, who despite being killed off in the movie before it even began, has a significant part where you learn that everyone’s future depends on him.

In conclusion, FRANTZ is a beautiful film that carries an important message in it. Ozon, as usually, writes an incredible screenplay, where you can’t even predict what will happen next, the same way if you would know nothing about what next time has prepared for you. FRANTZ is a full of mystery melodrama with gentle and caring performances delivered by the entire cast. It has a specific approach that you won’t even know why you’re so captivated by it. But by the time when you reach to the closing scene, where the story itself gets it true color, you will realize it, most likely, with tears coming down from your eyes that FRANTZ was and is one of most sentimental films you have seen in a while.

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