Frantz (2016) 
A Review By Ben Hunter
4.5/5 Stars 


So artsy it works, and doesn’t even fall into the cliché and headaches that usually follow. 


“Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to go slow
And sometimes if you wanna hold on you got to let go
I'm gonna close my eyes
And count to ten
I'm gonna close my eyes
And when I open them again
Everything will make sense to me then” 
-Tina Dico 

Shatterproof, a brass-bound unwanted pilgrimage to sanity that leaves one vulnerable to disgrace and accountability, incorruptible. The waves of battle leave those in heat and their loved ones in complete distraught from the ripples, causing pure anarchy, the feeling of unwanted, subconscious journey to salvation. But to no escape, a fate sealed in everlasting armor. Continuing the cycle of insanity. Carrying one’s cross, and bearing the weight of guilt, confusion and chaos with relationships that complicate demeanor … all amplified by war. 

Anna (Paula Beer) arrives at her fiancés grave, Frantz Hoffmeister (Anton von Lucke), as any other day. A man she loved and was eager to begin a life with who died in battle in this immediate, post WWI era Germany, 1919. On this particular day, she discovers a stranger weeping at her man’s grave. It’s clear this man is deeply affected by the passing of Frantz. This intrigues her. To her knowledge, she later uncovers that this man, Adrien Rivoire (Pierre Niney), went to see her would-be future father in law and prevalent father figure Dr. Hans Hoffmeister to speak with him. The wound still fresh from the loss of his son, and under the guise of an assumed medical visit, Hans refuses to treat or speak further with Adrien when he learns he is a Frenchman. The very people who killed his son Frantz. 

When does the truth become okay to suppress? 

Emotions swirl in all the participants as Dr. Hans and his wife are still grieving, Adrien feels even more burdensome with rejection on top of pain with no hope of redemption, and Anna for a brief moment able to focus on something other than the direct feeling of loss. So she explores this feeling. She finds out what hotel Adrien is residing, he must be visiting as he’s in enemy territory. Slowly, she eases Adrien into the lives of her family, the family she was prepared to become a part of with the matrimony to their son and now considers her own family. Tensions fragile and weak, Adrien unloads his pain revealing he was best friends with their beloved Frantz. How the two were inseparable and leaned on each other for support and started the journey of a real, life-lasting bond. Now, the start of fading memories due to war. Reminding us of the adherence of love, even if cultural boundaries are in place. 

Adrien becomes a welcomed new member of the family. A possible avenue for Anna to move on to with the blessings of her parents. And that’s when the truth reminds us of its adherence. Adherence to its rigorous agenda, regardless of our wishes. Does Anna reveal all? Does she keep quiet and move on? What price is worthy of happiness when the emotional well-being and dignified right to happiness in others is also at stake? The emotional conflict becomes relevant in François Ozon’s German quality, Frantz. 

Debuting in 2016 film festivals and now making its way to America, I hope it qualifies for awards this year. This film wreaks of “artsy-ness”. It’s filmed in black and white, reveling in the sorrow of loss. Some of the memories of Adrien and his relationship with Frantz beautifully transition into color to honor the life of his dear friend. To only beautifully reverse in the same transition when Adrien can’t endure the strain of casualty. So the visual effects are all substantiated with an emotionally heart wrenching narrative that keeps one wondering just how it will all unravel, especially when I thought I had it all figured out a couple of keen moments. To then digest another good portion of the story and decipher the ending once more. 

Adrien & Anna start to feel the weight unburden. 

An argument can be made for a slight quicker pace, or a meagerly trimmed story. And I’d throw in a slightly more grainy film look and less high definition to truly capture the look and feel of the early 20th century. I liked it as is, but I see this other side when I regretfully answer could I truly sit through this again? And then again and again, because it’s just so wonderful? But the first time was well worth the wait, as I was eager to experience this back at the beginning of the Oscar season in hopes to spice up my year end favorites list. So again, here’s hoping it somehow qualifies for 2017. 

Definitely worth a more intellectual Friday night date night on the couch. It’ll leave you hungry for the beauty in life. Humble and gentle in your new endeavors. 

Frantz (2016)
Based on the Play By: Maurice Rostand
Based on the Movie “Broken Lullaby” By: Ernst Lubitsch, and Reginald Berkeley, Samson Raphaelson, & Ernest Vajda
Screenplay By: François Ozon, in Collaboration With: Philippe Piazzo
Directed By: François Ozon
Cast: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber, Johann von Bülow, Anton von Lucke, Cyrielle Clair, Alice de Lencquesaing 

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