There’s much to recommend the German movie Phoenix – but you do have to accept one unlikely premise.
From director Christian Petzold, Phoenix is the story of Nelly whose face was destroyed by a gun shot during her time in Auschwitz. A surgeon rebuilds her face so well that while still looking attractive, her husband doesn’t recognise her.
Accept this is possible and you’ll enjoy this taut, suspense filled drama.
Nelly returns to her hometown Berlin after being rescued from Auschwitz by her friend from pre-war days Lene, a Jewish Agency employee.
Having barely recovered from facial surgery, Nelly ignores Lene’s warnings and sets out to find her husband, Johnny – the love of her life who she believes protected her from Nazi persecution for much of the war.
Nelly’s family has been murdered in the Holocaust and Johnny is convinced that his wife, too, is dead. When Nelly finally tracks him down, he recognizes nothing but an unnerving resemblance and doesn’t believe it could really be her. Hoping to secure her family’s inheritance, Johnny suggests to Nelly that she take on the identity of his late wife.
She agrees wanting to know whether Johnny loves her or whether he betrayed her.
We are left guessing the answer to this question until the end of the movie – with the final scene beautifully executed.
Nina Hoss is excellent as the haunted Nelly while the other actors including Ronald Zehrfeld as Johnny and Nina Kunzendorf as Lene also provide strong performances.
The film is showing at selected cinemas around Australia.
- movie, reviews
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