Star Rating:


Director: Francois Ozon

Actors: Ernst Stotzner, Paula Beer, Pierre Niney

Release Date: Friday 12th May 2017

Genre(s): Drama, War

Running time: Germany minutes

Set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, this engrossing drama finds Anna (Beer) grieving for her eponymous fiancé (Anton von Lucke) who died at the front. When she discovers a Frenchman Adrien (Niney) laying flowers at his grave, he confesses that he knew Frantz when they both studied music in Paris before the outbreak of war, and that his death has had a profound effect on him. However, as Adrien begins to stir romantic notions in Anna it becomes clear that he's holding back something.

Frantz is rich with nuance and detail with director Francois Ozon (5x2, Time To Leave) juggling a lot of heavy themes – grief, forgiveness, patriotism - with a subtle touch. He saturates his film in melancholy, letting the dour atmosphere dominant every frame. Largely shot in black and white, Ozon segues into colour when the mood lightens or changes slightly; Tom Ford utilised the same tactic in A Single Man when the colours would 'blush' and become more vibrant during the romantic/happier moments. He allows an air of defeat and humiliation hangs over this small town with Versailles' imminent reparations about to cripple the country still further and give rise to fascism.

This depressing mood affects the will they/won't they romance too. With Anna doing what she can to not fall for the handsome stranger, Ozon likes to hint that Adrien's reluctance to woo his friend's fiancé is an act of loyalty and/or that he and Frantz were secret lovers. The real reason, however, is altogether more unpredictable. The supporting characters do more than just service the main plot, coming across and living, breathing characters in their own right: While he hates France and its soldiers for killing his son, Frantz's father, local doctor Hans (Stotzner), is beset with guilt for helping instil a patriotic fervour in his son which led to his signing up to die at the front; marginalised by his friends by accepting Adrien into his home, Hans offers that the blood of their children is on their hands as much as France's. And there's hopeful suitor Kreutz (Johann Von Bulow) who can't understand why Anna wants to spend time with the 'enemy' and not him.