The director and riveting star of Barbara reunite for another moving film noir-inflected tale of love and profound suspicion, this time set amidst the reconstruction of Berlin in the immediate aftermath of WWII.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
German director Christian Petzold and his actress muse Nina Hoss follow up Barbara (2012) with Phoenix, an almost Hitchcockian drama of mistaken identity set in Berlin immediately after WWII. Hoss plays Nelly, a jazz singer, injured while escaping from a concentration camp. Successful reconstructive surgery has rendered her barely recognisable to her few surviving acquaintances. Despite their warnings, she searches the blitzed city hoping to confront the missing husband who may have betrayed her to the Nazis in the first place. When he fails to recognise her, a bizarre new courtship ensues. The film is a haunted chamber piece, finding new depths of experience in one of the great heartbroken songs of all time: Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash’s ‘Speak Low (When You Speak Love)’.
“Phoenix once again proves that German filmmaker Christian Petzold and his favorite star, Nina Hoss, are clearly one of the best director–actor duos working in movies today… The plot alone would probably make this latest effort worthy enough, but it’s the masterly craftsmanship and performances that reveal Petzold to be at the top of his game.” — Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
“Petzold is probing away at the nature of love, memory and betrayal. There are layers and layers of deception… Hoss is an extraordinarily expressive and soulful actress, able to convey her character’s fragility and fear as well as her determination to confront her past… As more wartime lies are exposed, the real drama here is less in the outrageous plot twists than in the quiet but searing intensity of Hoss’s performance.” — Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent