After WWI, a young German woman, Anna, finds a Frenchman laying flowers on the grave of her late fiancé. The fiancé, Frantz, was a German soldier who was killed in combat. As we learn shortly into the film, the Frenchman, Adrien, had been a soldier in the French army during the war.
Adrien presents himself as a dear friend of Frantz, but the underlying nature of their relationship is unclear. Were Adrien and Frantz just pre-war friends? Were they lovers? Or was Adrien somehow involved in the death of Frantz? Adding complexity to this emotionally-driven story, a fraught romantic tension develops between Adrien and Anna.
Underneath the uncertainties, grief, guilt and layered lies, both self-protective and superficially noble, are explored from the perspectives of all involved in the war's aftermath.
Directed by Francois Ozon, Frantz moves between reality, recollection and fantasy, with scenes shot in black and white, color and variations in between, though I didn't notice any correspondence between realism and the use of color. I can't even say that variations in the rendering of color were directly tied to changes in mood, but somehow the variations worked. Or they worked for me.
Paula Beer (Anna) and Pierre Niney (Adrien) anchor this film with beautiful performances backed by solid acting in the film's supporting roles.
Frantz is definitely a go-see film, excellent on first viewing and probably even better the second time around. This film is worthy of Academy Award nominations for best picture, director and performances in the foreign language film category.
Rotten Tomatoes rates Frantz an 89/100
X-ometer Rating: 95/100
French and German language with English subtitles.