Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements including brief war violence. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 7, 2017 Released by: Music Box Films
French helmer and co-writer Francois Ozon (Potiche, Swimming Pool) works in a more reserved, yet thoughtful mode from a primarily monochromatic palette in this post-World War I melodrama (drawn from a 1932 anti-war film Broken Lullaby) that hinges prominently on the clandestine nature of its characters.
Frantz (fully subtitled) is an interpretative, well-crafted tale of guilt, forgiveness, as well as yearning (which accounts for an occasional hue transition) set in 1919 Quedlinburg, Germany.
22-year-old Paula Beer makes quite an impression as Anna who lost the eponymous sensitive soldier of a fiancé and fiddler (played by Anton von Locke in flashbacks) in the trenches of the battlefield against the French, now dwelling with his family.
Having witnessed a lanky, thin mustached Frenchman, Adrien (a poised, if delicate Pierre Niney) at her fiancé's tombstone with flowers his enigmatic presence isn't a plus for the town still reeling from the aftermath of war. The decease's family and Anna are reluctant to warm up to him until Adrien tells of their connection prior to war (mutual exchanges of albums and memories like a visit to The Louvre begin to change that) with the latter becoming closer to him thorough dance and music.
Ozon, though, lets the power of a revelation inject what is clearly attention-grabbing , as nationalism, grief, and moral relativism come into play; Johann Von Bulow's Kreutz appears a worthy suitor (at least to the parents) for Anna. He doesn't appreciate their deepening friendship. A truth leads to a return, a break in communication until the time is right to see if something more significant can exist.
Frantz may be considered too conservative for Ozon, given what he's previously done. But with an illuminating Beer (a European actress to watch) doing so much with her visage and especially opposite a shaded Niney a cinematic provocation creatively swirls through secrets and lies.