Frantz is a 2016 drama film directed and co-written by François Ozon and starring Paula Beer and Pierre Niney.
It is about a young German woman whose fiancé has been killed in World War I and the French soldier who comes bearing a secret about her fiancé.
Not to be confused with Franz (1971).
In Quedlinburg, Germany, in 1919, Anna, a young German woman (Paula Beer) grieving over the death of her fiancé, Frantz Hoffmeister, in World War I, leaves flowers at his grave. She sees fresh flowers and discovers that Adrien (Pierre Niney), a young Frenchman, has done the same. Adrien goes to the home of Frantz’s parents, Dr. Hans and Magda Hoffmeister, and tries to speak to Hans, but when Hans hears that Adrien is French, he tells Adrien that a Frenchman killed his son and, calling the French murderers, drives Adrien away. Adrien tells Hans, “You are right. I am a murderer”. Meanwhile, Anna is rejecting the unwelcome advances of an older suitor, particularly as she cannot forget Frantz. Anna sees Adrien at the grave and sends him a invitation to the Hoffmeister home. After she tells the Hoffmeisters that Adrien was leaving flowers at Frantz’s grave, they relent. Adrien visits and, upon questioning, recounts falsely that he and Frantz were students together in Paris before the war. He even describes their supposed last day together, when they visited the Louvre. Anna takes Adrien to the places she and Frantz used to go together, including the mountaintop where he proposed to her. Adrien, whose demeanour reminds them of Frantz, lifts Anna and the Hoffmeisters out of their despair. The Hoffmeisters ask Adrien, who had been a violinist, but whose hearing was damaged in the war, to play Frantz’s violin for them, as Frantz used to do. Adrien asks Anna to go to the local ball with him and she accepts.
Adrien is increasingly unable to maintain the lie. After failing to attend a dinner at the Hoffmeister’s he was invited to, Anna finds him at night at Frantz’s grave. Adrien confesses to Anna that he lied about being Frantz’s friend in Paris before the war. Actually, they met as enemy soldiers on the battlefield, face to face in a trench where Adrien killed Frantz. Frantz was a pacifist and his gun was unloaded. Adrien found Frantz’s last letter to Anna on his body and, wracked with guilt, resolved to visit Germany in order to seek forgiveness. Anna, heartbroken, says that she will tell the Hoffmeisters so that Adrien does not, resolving it is better for them to remain in ignorance of Adrien’s role after they have come to like him and see him as a connection to their lost son. Adrien returns to Paris and Anna sinks back into despair, attempting to drown herself. She does not reply to Adrien’s letters and destroys one he enclosed for the Hoffmeisters confessing his true role. After being nursed back to health by the Hoffmeisters, Anna’s spirits gradually recover and she decides to contact Adrien again. When Anna sends him a letter several months later, it is returned with no forwarding address.
Magda Hoffmeister, who had encouraged a romance between Anna and Adrien, encourages her to go to Paris to find him. Anna eventually tracks down Adrien at his mother’s estate and forgives him, though he says he will never forgive himself. She also discovers that Adrien is about to enter an arranged marriage with a childhood friend, Fanny. Anna realises that the romance she had imagined developing between her and Adrien had all been in her head; all he had wanted from her was forgiveness. She kisses Adrien goodbye at the railway station and leaves. She continues writing to the Hoffmeisters as if she and Adrien are now together. In reality, she is living her own life in Paris, having finally started living again following Frantz’s death, as Frantz said she should in his last letter to her.
- Paula Beer as Anna.
- Pierre Niney as Adrien.
- Ernst Stötzner as Doktor Hoffmeister.
- Marie Gruber as Magda Hoffmeister.
- Johann von Bülow [de] as Kreutz.
- Anton von Lucke [de] as Frantz.
- Cyrielle Clair as Adrien’s mother.
- Alice de Lencquesaing as Fanny.
Frantz received generally positive reviews from critics.
- It was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where Beer won the Marcello Mastroianni Award.
- At the 42nd César Awards, Frantz was nominated in eleven categories, winning one for Best Cinematography.
- Édouard Manet’s painting Le Suicidé is referenced and shown several times in the story.
- Frantz is a loose adaptation of the 1932 Ernst Lubitsch film Broken Lullaby, which in turn was based on Maurice Rostand’s 1930 French play L’homme que j’ai tué.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Francois Ozon.
- Producer(s): Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Stefan Arndt, and Uwe Schott.
- Writer(s): Francois Ozon and Philippe Piazzo.
- Music: Philippe Rombi.
- Cinematography: Pascal Marti.
- Editor(s): Laure Gardette.
- Distributor(s): Mars Films (France).
- Release Date: 12 July 2016 (Paris Premiere), 07 September 2016 (general release, France), and 29 September 2016 (Germany).
- Running Time: 113 minutes.
- Rating: 12.
- Country: France and Germany.
- Language: French and German.