Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years


27th February 2018 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL


France/Germany 2016 114 mins

Anna Paula Beer Director François Ozon
Adrien Rivoire Pierre Niney Writers François Ozon,
Dr Hans Hoffmeister Ernst Stötzner Phillippe Piazzo
Magda Hoffmeister Marie Gruber Cinematographer Pascal Marti
Adrien’s mother

Cyrielle Clair
Alice de Lencquesaing
Anton von Lucke
Johann von Bülow
Laure Gardette
Philippe Rombi

French filmmaker Francois Ozon tackles another genre with this historical drama, which has shades of Haneke in its multi-layered story of forgiveness and redemption. Shot in black and white with moments of blossoming colour, the film harks back to period war dramas due to the visual style and the way the story evolves. But of course, Ozon puts his own subtle spin on everything. And the result is darkly moving.

In 1919, residents of a small German village are angry about losing a generation of young men at war. So they're not happy to see Frenchman Adrien tearfully putting flowers the grave of fallen local boy Frantz. Then he visits Frantz's parents, who have taken in their son's fiancee Anna as a daughter. After a rough start, Adrien explains that Frantz was his friend in Paris before the war. But there’s something that he's hiding. And when Anna learns the truth, it's her turn to keep some secrets.

Frantz poster

Everyone in this story is in need of some soul-cleansing, and Ozon sets them circling around each other with all of the best intentions. Small lies creep in to help others feel better, which plants a kernel of guilt that requires more attention. The question is whether this is the true nature of happiness: remaining ignorant of the painful truth. Intriguingly, there's no self-deception here. Just yearning desires, benevolent thoughts and suicidal tendencies.

The cast deliver beautifully stylised performances, echoing movie classics while adding present-day edginess. Niney is superb as a lanky, sad-looking man who isn't quite grown up yet and wants to make things right. Opposite him, Beer is strikingly alert as a young women who's open to life even amid doubts. Side characters also are vivid, including Stötzner and Gruber, plus Clair in a small-but-spicy role as Adrien's larger-than-life mother. And in flashbacks, von Lucke shows why Frantz's memory so haunts these people.

In all of his films, whether they're funny, sexy or weepy, Ozon cuts through to motivations people don't realise they have. This approach gives him plenty of scope to lead audiences down all sorts of trails, with hints and suggestion as well as glimpses of true feelings in the tiniest gesture. And he never betrays the format with whooshy modern camerawork or sarcastic wit. It's a reminder of how movies used to resonate so strongly, and that they still can.

Rich Cline at