After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer, her face disfigured and reconstructed, returns to her war-ravaged hometown to find the gentile husband who may or may not have betrayed her. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story…
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As others have said, this is a slight, unsubtle parable, but still, and yet, usw. Petzold handles his theme of the return and reintegration of the repressed with somewhat didactic efficiency before transfiguring it in a breathtaking finale that both revives Nelly and restores her to flight.
A provocative, imaginative, slightly on-the-nose allegory for Germany moving on from its dark past, and Hoss and Petzold's first shot at a real crossover arthouse hit. The symbolism and politics are smart. The chief drawback is formal: the film's atmosphere and visual style are thin, scoring for neither "realism" nor poetry. Would that we could see this same story drenched head to toe in the colors of The Conformist.
Fascinating film about lies and hypocrisy. Maybe the narrative is too much metaphorical, but the cinematography is masterful and the last sequence breathtaking. It may be the most political film of the year.
At first it seems far-fetched, contrived; full of loose ends & elements that don't seem to add up; but on reflection, manages to grapple with some devastating themes. The experience of the protagonist mirrors that of the country itself; she loses her identity, is rebuilt but forced back into the same routines. She's made to suppress the experience of the holocaust, to pretend everything's okay, but she can't.
Though Petzold's latest may pale against his recent oeuvre it's finale is so spellbinding that what came before ceases to matter. Risen from the ashes Nelly after reconstructive surgery caused by mistreatment in the camps during the Holocaust goes in search of her husband; a husband who may have sold her out to the Nazis himself. A strange mix of 'Vertigo' and survivor tale follows with a dynamite turn by Nina Hoss.
A knockout. KO. This is one of the great movies about gender. Put me in the place - as a white, privileged, male viewer - of identifying viscerally w/ a woman who utimate-not-so-perplexingly actively pursues her own subservience ... until ... she doesn't ... w/ staggering, spine-shivering dignity. Nina Hoss is out of this world in Phoenix. Always love watching her. This time I got right inside what I was seeing.
This film irked me tremendously. To speak of my annoyances would be spoiling, but my hands were up in the air the whole time. Nevertheless, this is definitely a Petzold film; his coined mysticality here, softened into a lush yet bitter jazz standard. Nina Hoss is remarkable, best ever, like, best actress working today... she's that good.
Now that Petzold found a "generic" language, typical of the art cinema with message of film festivals, he found also the attention and praise that failed him when he made his more cryptic films as "Gespenster", where fiction walked alongside its spectrality. Returning in another way to "Yella", only in the intense final, of a unique dramaturgical resolution, he finds the language that so strongly characterized him.