The ever-prolific François Ozon makes a welcome return with this richly-evocative period piece, set in the aftermath of World War I.
In a small German town, a young woman named Anna mourns the tragic death of her fiancé Frantz. Living with her departed lover’s parents, Anna keeps to herself, until one day she spies a mysterious man leaving flowers on Frantz’s grave.
Discovering the man to be a close friend of her fiancé during his time in France, Anna finds solace in the outsider’s memories of her beloved. But as her sorrow slowly begins to lift and the pair become increasingly attached, some striking truths emerge, forcing Anna to question her burgeoning feelings.
No two Ozon films are ever the same and this sweeping love story is a typically atypical work from the wonderfully unpredictable filmmaker. Shot predominantly in gorgeous black and white – the monochrome austerity of the film’s opening scenes feels curiously reminiscent of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (although this is as far as such similarities go) – it is a surprising contrast to the vibrant colours Ozon usually employs.
But if Frantz marks a stylistic departure, fans can rest assured that the director’s signature touches (mischievous narrative twists, an affection for classical melodrama and playful sexual ambiguity) are all present and correct. The result is unmistakably, quintessentially Ozon.
“Somptuous… Feels like new territory for Ozon.”
Nigel M Smith, The Guardian