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"PHOENIX"--A MOVIE REVIEW

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“They don’t make them like the did in the old days, “ is the cry of many senior film buffs, including me. In “Phoenix” the director, and co-writer with Harun Farocki, Christian Petzold certainly tries. With bits of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” here, Kander and Ebb’s, with Fosse’s, “Cabaret” there, this movie, as film noir, cries out for a Barbara Stanwyck or Lana Turner and to have been filmed in black and white.
The story of a woman, Nelly, who had her face damaged by a gunshot wound in a German concentration camp has her face reconstructed after the war and goes looking for her husband Johnny. Upon finding him he doesn’t recognize her and tries to get her involved with a get rich scheme by having her impersonate his late wife so he can get her inheritance that was left by her relatives who died in the war.
“As Time Goes By” is an important part of “Casablanca” as are “Again” in “Road House” and “Que Sera, Sera” in “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and this movie too has a song that becomes an important part of the story, by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash, called “Speak Low” which is heard throughout the film and impacts the ending.
Nina Hoss, as Nelly, may not have the sexuality of a Lana Turner, and is a beauty in her own right, but she is the equal of Barbara Stanwyck in the acting department. She can and does say a lot with a look, her eyes through bad or good and the way she holds herself. You watch her progression from a scared, downtrodden woman to the beautiful, confident woman she was before the war. Ronald Zehrfeld, as her husband Johnny, who thinks that she can pass for his wife that could help him put his scam over has doubts about who she really may be but not enough to stop him. Zehrfeld has a romantic innocence that makes him seem less the villain than he is.
Another major, but undeveloped, role is Nina Kunzendorf as Lene, who does a lot for Nelly but their relationship isn’t quite defined and is unceremoniously out of the film before the halfway mark.
I was told by Allen that the film was an analogy of Germany after the war but I will admit it went right over my head! It might account for why I didn’t like the film as much as I expected to but it did introduce me to Hoss, Zehrfeld and Petzold enough for me to want to see the previous films they have made together.
“Phoenix” is a German film with (some poor such as ‘sit up‘ instead of ‘sit down‘) subtitles running 98 minutes.
MOVIE TRAILER


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj9_LUgf_mA


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