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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Nina Hoss is phenomenal. And Ronald Zehrfeld gives a great performance as well, with just enough anguish and mustachioed charisma to make Johnny's collaboration seem complicated. In addition, the ending scene might be the best cinema moment I've seen in a year or two, and would make the movie worth seeing all by itself.
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.
A film about the most intimate questions of identity and trust which seem almost too personal to be shared; yet the whole motive force of the film is about demonstrating identity to others. It is a masterclass in film making and performance and the final scene will live with me for many a year.
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.