Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(2user reviews)

François Ozon examines grief and truth in a muted tragedy that follows a young woman as she falls in love with the friend of her dead fiancé in post WWI Germany

French filmmaker François Ozon’s ‘Frantz’ takes place in Germany in 1919, when the wounds of World War I were still horribly raw. Indeed, the film’s title character, a powerful absence throughout, is recently dead: Frantz was a young German soldier who died on the battlefield. His fiancée Anna (Paula Beer, a standout performance) is the film’s main character. She’s now living with Frantz’s parents, the Hoffmeisters, in the medieval town of Quedlinburg in eastern Germany, and she’s shaken when a stranger, Frenchman Adrien (Pierre Niney, suave confidence masking his tremendous fragility), is spotted laying flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien explains that he was close to Frantz in Paris before the war, and soon he and Anna become close, although there’s much more about his story still to emerge.

Calm and wistful for the most part, and resisting a drift into meldodrama, ‘Frantz’ (a loose remake of a little-known 1932 Ernst Lubitsch film ‘Broken Lullaby’) plays out almost entirely in black and white. In a few scenes here and there colour appears before our eyes – moments that hint at the happiness of the past or hope of the future. It’s a film where the real fireworks have already happened: events play out in the ashes of grief and trauma.

‘Frantz’ is a slightly over-polite and overly careful, and the black and white palette is unappealingly washed out – more like a collection of greys. But the sense of festering postwar anger and pain is strong, and there are intriguing questions here. Is being honest always the best policy? Or are there situations in which lying protects others from the damaging truth? And, if so, what’s the emotional knock-on for the person who’s doing the hiding? Paula Beer’s performance as Anna is without doubt the film’s biggest strength: she’s a European talent to watch.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday May 12 2017
Duration: 113 mins

Cast and crew

Director: François Ozon
Screenwriter: François Ozon
Cast: Pierre Niney
Paula Beer

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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An excellent slice of European film making.The gorgeous Paula Beer is excellent in her sad role.Although a French film it is essentially Germanic in tone.The script is thoughtful,and the gloom of defeated Germany is realistic.Perhaps a bit too romantic and David Lean at times,but otherwise a beautiful and elegant film for the discerning cinema goer.4 stars


This is stylish, thoughtful & satisfying piece of work from the great French director Francois Ozon. The only thing it has in common with his other films is quality & originality.

It all takes place in Germany following the end of the 1st world war. It follows a personal story of a family coping with the death of a son  & a girl coping with the death of her fiance  (played brilliantly by Paula Beer). If that doesn't put you off, it's also (mainly) in black & white.

Now this may not be for everyone - but it is a perfect "Arty" film to view on a Sunday afternoon (ideally a wet Sunday) - best viewed in an upmarket cinema . In fact you will probably have difficulty catching it in your local multiplex.

I thought it was just great.