Phoenix

Phoenix movieApril 27, 2015

Showings 4:30, 7:00 and 9:10pm

Germany
Rated PG | German with English subtitles | 98 minutes

Petzold established himself at the forefront of the group of contemporary German filmmakers known as the Berlin School. Following the success of his previous film, Barbara, Petzold returns with another story of a fiercely determined woman — and the deeply divided society to which she belongs — caught between a tragic past and an uncertain future.

Emerging from a concentration camp at the end of World War II, Nelly Lenz (played by the formidable Nina Hoss, Petzold’s regular star) undergoes significant reconstructive surgery to repair a facial injury caused by a bullet wound. Presumed dead by her friends and relatives, fixated on the memories of her former life and unable to accept the shattered reality before her, Nelly returns to Berlin to fulfill the dream that sustained her throughout her imprisonment: reuniting with her husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld, Hoss’ co-star in Barbara). But even as she scours the ravaged city to find him, she is haunted by terrible, whispered rumours that it was Johnny himself who betrayed her to the Nazis.

Travelling beyond Barbara’s setting in the former East Germany to further explore his country’s dark twentieth-century history, Petzold positions Nelly as a powerfully ambiguous representation of the title’s phoenix: rising from the ashes of her broken life, she strives not to begin anew but to reclaim the old dreams of the past. Gorgeously shot, featuring impeccable art direction, a faultless score, and two powerhouse performances in the leading roles, Phoenix is one of the most thrilling and engrossing dramas of the year.

Both a powerful allegory for post-war regeneration and a rich Hitchcockian tale of mistaken identity, Phoenix once again proves that German filmmaker Christian Petzold and his favorite star, Nina Hoss, are clearly one of the best director-actor duos working in movies today.

—Jordan Mintzer,

The Hollywood Reporter

 

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