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Phoenix (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 98 minutes.

OK for children.

Highlighted by exceptional acting by Nina Hoss as Nelly, a concentration camp survivor, ably supported by Ronald ZehfeldIt as her former husband, Johnny, this is a dark, relatively depressing picture of the state of German humanity immediately after the end of World War II.

Nelly’s face has been severely injured by a gunshot so after plastic surgery she looks so different that Johnny doesn’t recognize her. After she finds him she doesn’t tell him who she is, trying to learn if her beloved husband was the one who betrayed her, undoubtedly a metaphor for what faced ordinary Germans right after the war with respect to their government.

Directed by award winning Christian Petzold, the cinematography and production design are outstanding, realistically capturing what Germany looked like immediately after the end of the war, and what her people were like. This is not a film for everybody, but the acting and photography are worth the sit, despite the lack of pace.

In German and English.