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The Observer - The New Review - - FRIDAY 17 - Jonathan Rom­ney

(François Ozon, 2016)

In­de­fati­ga­bly pro­lific French di­rec­tor Ozon ( In the House, The New Girl­friend) is known for be­ing a wag­gish provo­ca­teur who rarely takes his top­ics too se­ri­ously. But this black and white pe­riod piece sees him in un­usu­ally clas­sic mode. It’s set in a small Ger­man town af­ter the first world war, where young Anna (su­perb new­comer Paula Beer) is griev­ing for her fi­ance, killed in ac­tion. One day, a mys­te­ri­ous young French­man ap­pears at Frantz’s grave, and he and Anna form a con­nec­tion, to the dis­ap­proval of her com­mu­nity. This aus­tere tale might have been a poignant ro­man­tic tragedy in a fa­mil­iar vein, if not for the Ozon touch – no­tably his cast­ing of Pierre Niney as Adrien, his wan, del­i­cate pres­ence bring­ing this os­ten­si­bly het­ero­sex­ual tale a queer in­flex­ion that’s Ozon to the hilt.

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