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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.

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Contains examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: what happened to Anatole Rivoire, Adrien's uncle. It ultimately drives him to suicide.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: the movie is almost entirely in black and white, befitting the grief and pain of the characters.
  • Forged Message: Anna writes and read 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.
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  • Happily Ever After: Subverted. Despite the romance burgeoning between Adrien and Anna, Adrien is incapable of moving past his wounds and he and Anna part ways.
  • 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.
  • The Lost Lenore: Frantz to Anna.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Not So Different: 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.
  • "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.
  • 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 Dumas. 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.

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