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The Buffalo News - - WEATHER -

here aren’t any old times,” Joseph Cot­ten says with a grind of bound­less op­ti­mism in “The Mag­nif­i­cent Am­ber­sons,” a movie made dur­ing wartime, 1942. “When times are gone, they’re not old, they’re dead. There aren’t any times but new times.”

A more threat­en­ing em­bod­i­ment of that idea, of new times that seem like old times, comes to sub­tly provoca­tive life in “Tran­sit,” one of the most in­trigu­ing films of the new year. Writ­ten and di­rected by Ger­man film­maker Chris­tian Pet­zold, it’s an au­da­cious re­minder that there’s Franz Ro­gowski and Paula Beer star in ‘Tran­sit.’

more than one way to adapt a “pe­riod” novel for a new era.

Pet­zold has taken on a story, set in the French port city of Mar­seille, af­ford­ing him the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a shapeshift­ing nar­ra­tive, calmly ex­pli­cated but full of un­easy, even damn­ing im­pli­ca­tions of refugee crises for a new era.

The film comes from the semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel by Anna Seghers (born Netty Reil­ing, 1900-1983), ex­iled in France while her hus­band

was in a prison camp. Seghers com­pleted “Tran­sit” in 1942; it was pub­lished two years later.

Pet­zold re­tains some as­pects and re­con­sti­tutes oth­ers. The film wastes no time toss­ing you straight into its premise. Ger­man refugee Ge­org, played by the riv­et­ing Franz Ro­gowski, is in a Mar­seille bistro. It’s the pre­sent day, judg­ing by the cars and the vis­ual de­tails. The oc­cu­py­ing forces have taken Paris, and Mar­seille is next to fall.

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