- 1 hr 38 min
Phoenix is a German film set in post-World War II Berlin. It tells the story of Nelly, a Holocaust survivor who is disfigured in a concentration camp and returns to Berlin after the war to try to reclaim her former life. The movie was directed by Christian Petzold and stars Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, and Nina Kunzendorf. The film opens with Nelly, played by Hoss, being bandaged after her release from the concentration camp. Her face is wrapped in gauze, and her friend Lene, played by Kunzendorf, tries to explain to her what has happened while she was in the camp. Lene tells Nelly that her husband Johnny, played by Zehrfeld, had betrayed her to the Nazis and that she is the only surviving member of her family. Despite Lene's warnings, Nelly is determined to find Johnny and rebuild their life together.
When Nelly finds Johnny, he does not recognize her because of her new appearance. Nelly, who has undergone extensive facial reconstruction surgery, decides to go along with the charade and pretends to be someone else in order to find out if Johnny really did betray her to the Nazis. As Nelly and Johnny spend more and more time together, she begins to question whether or not he truly did betray her, and the movie explores the themes of identity, memory, and betrayal.
One of the standout features of Phoenix is the stunning performance by Nina Hoss. Her portrayal of Nelly is both heartbreaking and haunting, and the way she slowly peels back the layers of her character's psyche is nothing short of mesmerizing. Her chemistry with Ronald Zehrfeld, who plays Johnny, is also excellent. Zehrfeld brings a sense of vulnerability and regret to his character, and the scenes where he and Hoss are reunited are some of the most powerful in the movie.
The cinematography in Phoenix is also noteworthy. The film is shot in mostly muted tones, with the post-war Berlin setting being a constant reminder of the devastation and destruction that the city has suffered. The use of shadows and light is also cleverly done, with the characters often being obscured or hidden in the darkness, emphasizing their insecurities and doubts.
One of the film's main strengths is its ability to create a sense of tension and unease without relying on cheap jump scares or overt violence. The suspense in Phoenix comes from the ever-present threat of danger and the characters' personal relationships. As Nelly investigates whether or not Johnny betrayed her, she becomes implicated in a dangerous conspiracy, and the stakes continue to rise throughout the film.
Overall, Phoenix is a powerful and moving exploration of identity and memory set in the turbulent aftermath of World War II. With excellent performances, stunning visuals, and a haunting score, the movie is a must-see for anyone interested in nuanced, thought-provoking cinema.
Phoenix is a 2015 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 89.