Frantz ****

4 out of 5 stars

A mysterious French man visits the grave of a German soldier after the end of WWI at a time when the latter’s fiancé and parents are still grieving and coming to terms with their loss – and so start Francoise Ozon’s latest film, a very old-fashioned story (both in terms of its construction and execution) that is part romance, part mystery and part European arthouse film. The narrative drifts from WWI drama to Hitchcock to David Lean’s Brief Encounters, twisting and turning in order to sidestep genre expectations; mirroring the way the film, even though shot beautifully in monochrome, occasionally slips into colour in an almost dreamy and whimsical fashion. With fine performances by a gorgeous cast – Paula Beer is elegantly nuanced while the enigmatic Pierre Niney is simmering with angst and guilt – this is a moving and engaging film with beauty and substance that will linger in one’s memory long after the screening.

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