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Film / Frantz

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Frantz is a 2016 French-German drama film directed by François Ozon starring Paula Beer and Pierre Niney.

1919, a small German town. Anna (Paula Beer) mourns the death of her fiancé, Frantz Hoffmeister who was killed during World War I. One day while leaving flowers on his grave, she sees a Frenchman, Adrien Rivoire (Pierre Niney) do the same. He tells her that he is a friend from Frantz who studied in Paris before the war.Soon, and despite the animosity of the town towards this Frenchman, Adrien is invited at the Hoffmeister's table and his stories about Frantz help the Hoffmeisters and Anna to get over their grief. But Adrien may not have told everything...

The film is a remake of the American movie Broken Lullaby. It was noted for its delicate and stylish execution as well as its pro-peace, anti-nationalism and feminist message.

Contains examples of:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Kreutz courts Anna, who rejects him. Anna falls in love with Adrien, who is engaged to Fanny.
  • An Arm and a Leg: what happened to Anatole Rivoire, Adrien's uncle. It ultimately drives him to suicide.
  • Daydream Surprise: Anna wakes up and hears a violin. She goes downstairs and she sees a man playing. He turns around: he is Frantz, back from the dead! Anna wakes up in her bed.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: the movie is almost entirely in black and white, befitting the grief and pain of the characters.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Despite the romance burgeoning between Adrien and Anna, Adrien is incapable of moving past his wounds and he and Anna part ways.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Anna, after Adrien tells her the truth and goes back to France. She attempts to drown herself. A passer-by interrupts her.
    • Anatole Rivoire, Adrien's uncle. He committed suicide because he was seriously injured during the war.
    • Adrien after the war, because he feels guilty for killing Frantz. He survives his suicide attempt and decides to go to Germany to meet Frantz's relatives.
  • Flashback: The death of Frantz is told in a flashback.
  • Foreign Remake: This film is a remake of Broken Lullaby, a 1932 American film by Ernst Lubitsch.
  • Forged Message: Anna writes and reads a false letter from Adrien to the Hoffmeisters.
  • Gay Paree: Subverted. Through the pre-war remembrances of Frantz and Adrien, we are given a rather idealistic view of the city, full of beautiful architecture, art, leisure and seduction. However, when Anna arrives there, the city has yet to recover from the war: there is poverty, hospitals for veterans... On a more personal note, she further discovers that the hotel her fiancé was living in is a shady establishment that hosts prostitutes and that the Manet painting Adrien described her as being Frantz's favorite actually depicts a man having committed suicide.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Both Anna and Adrien frequently visit Frantz's grave.
  • Happy Flashback: Full-colour scenes which seem to be flashbacks depict the life of Adrien and Frantz in Paris. Subverted: they are finally revealed to be fantasy sequences, because Adrien never met Frantz in Paris.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Both Anna and Adrien. Anna tries to drown herself but is saved by a passerby. The details of how Adrien survives his own attempt are not revealed.
  • Invented Invalid: As a justification for Adrien's sudden departure, Anna tells the Hoffmeisters that his mother is sick and he had to go back to France.
  • The Lost Lenore: Frantz, Anna's fiancé who died in the war.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: first, Adrien to the Hoffmeisters with the tales of his friendship with Frantz. And second, Anna who after discovering the truth, lies to both Adrien and the Hoffmeisters to give them closure.
    Priest to Anna: What would bring the truth? Only more pain. Only more tears.
  • Mirroring Factions: multiples parallels are drawn between the French and the Germans. They tend to show that despite their nationalist pride and mutual resentment, they are two nations grieving for the death of their sons and relieved that the war is over.
  • Monochrome to Color: colors get restored when the characters get some happiness back. First, through the remembrances of Anna and Adrien about Frantz. And ultimately, when Anna decides to stay in Paris and reconstructs her life.
  • The Mourning After: After Frantz's death, Anna, her fiancée, does not want to start another relationship. Even Frantz's parents suggest her to start a relationship first with Kreutz, then with Adrien, but Anna still thinks about her deceased fiancé. Subverted, because she falls for Adrien in the end.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The Hoffmeisters have outlived their son Frantz, who died in the war.
  • Posthumous Character: Frantz is dead at the start of the story. His character is developped in flashbacks. Some flashbacks are revealed to be the fruit of Adrien's imagination.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Doktor Hans Hoffmeister gives one his friends that resent him for showing friendship and kindness to a Frenchman: Hans points out that they, the old generation in power, are also responsible for the death of their sons as they are the ones that encourage them to fight in the war out of patriotic duty. And that the French did exactly the same.
  • Redemption Quest: Adrien goes to Germany to meet the relatives of a guy who he killed during the war. He wants to get their forgiveness.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Adrien fills in the emotional void of the loss of Frantz for Anna, his fiancée, and for the Hoffmeisters, his parents.
  • Romancing the Widow: What Kreutz tries to do with Anna. With no success.
  • The Reveal: Adrien does not know Frantz; he is the soldier that killed him during the war. All his tales to Anna and the Hoffmeisters were lies designed to appease their grief and his guilt.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Adrien, who still has not recover from the war; and from his guilt over killing Frantz in battle.
  • Shout-Out:
    • L'hôtel des Camélias is likely a reference to the novel The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. Both are about prostitutes.
    • The scene where Germans sing "Die Wacht am Rhein" followed by another scene where Frenchmen sing the "Marseillaise" is likely a reference to Casablanca. However compared to Casablanca, the Patriotic Fervor of the "Marseillaise" scene is uncomfortable, rather than moving, because it is on the viewpoint of Anna.
  • Shirtless Scene: despite a few scars, Adrien looks good without a shirt on.
  • Widow's Weeds: as Frantz's widow, Anna primarily wears this.