A refugee’s wartime mystery, with a twist
of “Transit” is realistic up to a point: There are no cellphones, and the clothes people wear don’t seem to belong to any particular period. We’re never encouraged to settle into the movie’s version of the present tense. Petzold’s technique is clean, devoid of surface flash; cinematographer Hans Fromm favors the sunny, seaside milieu, so that Georg becomes less of a film noir archetype and more of an Everyman, squinting into the sun, puzzling over his new identity. “Transit” is barely an hour and a half in length but it takes its time.
The casting’s marvelous, from Rogowski’s plaintive, somewhat dazed Georg (he looks like Joaquin Phoenix’s overseas cousin) to Iranian actress Maryam Zaree, as the mother of the boy befriended by Georg. What emerges in “Transit” is a fresco of displacement, of people on the run but stuck in place.
In “Transit,” the refugees are neither here nor there; they’re then and now. And escape comes only for the lucky few.