A noir-ish and complex emotional thriller set in post-war Berlin. From the director of 'Barbara.'

“Christian Petzold’s stunning Phoenix is an amazing piece of work that transcends historical document to become art. Using the filmic language of noir, Petzold crafts a story of a culture caught in the aftermath of horror. Moving through the rubble of Berlin just after the end of World War II, the characters of Phoenix are ghosts, denying past betrayals and putting up a façade to keep the pain repressed. It’s unforgettable.

“Nina Hoss plays Nelly Lenz, a woman who has escaped from a concentration camp, but suffered severe facial injuries in the process. Her whole face will have to be rebuilt, leaving a shadow of her old self. Nelly decides to seek out her husband, Johnny, even though there’s evidence to suggest that it was he who turned Nelly into the SS. When Nelly crosses paths with Johannes (don’t call him Johnny any more), he notices the resemblance, but has completely convinced himself that his wife must be dead. It’s a trick of denial.

“However, his wife has an unclaimed fortune, and Johannes convinces Nelly to pretend to be who she actually is to claim it. He trains her to be Nelly again, coordinating “Nelly’s return” to civilization. She goes along with it, frightened to reveal the truth, and hopeful that this will allow her some semblance of the life she had.

“The plot of Phoenix is its first masterstroke: a brilliant encapsulation of how people cope with tragedy.  Petzold’s visualization of this emotionally daring story is so finely tuned and executed that it can be taken for granted. Hoss is mesmerizing here in every single beat. It’s a performance from which you can’t turn away. The final scene is a movie moment for the ages. I will never forget the end of Phoenix, Ever.” - Brian Tallerico


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