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Frantz by Francois Ozon is not only a romantic movie.  However, Ozon cleverly lulls us into this illusion many times.  He plays with our foolish sentiment, just like our expectations after meeting a potential lover, only to be reluctantly lifted from our soft reverie as the romantic heroine/hero only to be replaced, instead, as the ridiculous protagonist of our very own tragic comedy.  Frantz arguably pays homage to Shakespeare`s Midsummer Night`s Dream and Twelfth night.  Allowing the fanes and wanes of love from one unsuspecting character to another, guide each twist and turn of the plot.  

   However, as I mentioned at the outset, this is not only a romantic movie.  It is far too clever to rest upon one genre.  It echos the classic French triage. One that I mimicked; unbeknown to my actual, conscious artistic, younger self, when I attempted to write my first screenplay at 20. Interrogated  by my final year professors,  the asked if I had purposefully paid homage to Les Diaboliques by Henri‑Georges Clouzot--which arguably Frantz has elements of as well, when Anna plays detective in her mystery hunt for Francois in France--having had not actually seen Les Diaboliques at the time of the interrogation I wondered where my inspiration had come from.  
     After a couple of days contemplation, I realised that my mother, a French teacher, had facilitated the inception.  She had driven us through many a dark evening to the local art house cinema. Despite Yorkshire winds howling, through rain and sleet, to see one obscure French film after another.  Little did I realise at the time of writing my first screenplay, these influences had seeped out onto pages of my final year project. This wonderful ritual, that I try to keep up to this day, gave rise to my rather amateur attempt at a French psychological thriller, without me actually knowing that this is where my inspiration came from.  Intuition is a sneaky and clever little thing.
    So when the rain set in over Munich, like a typical afternoon in the Pennines, I ran, or rather hobbled, with my twisted ankle to the nearest art house cinema.  I devoured Frantz with delight, despite its sullen and melancholy tone.
   Surprisingly, the cinema was packed with both French and German cinephiles.  Luckily, I had sat on the predominantly Gallic row. After the film had finished, I tuned in to that charming way that the French discuss with such ease.  They were trying to make sense of both the film`s ending and how  Anna`s life may have continued.  Just like a good "open text" film allows, the life of the characters keep on living well beyond the credits.  
   Anna, played by Paula Beer  is not only well cast, she is also able to embody the sometimes austere composure that comprises Germanic sentiment. Furthermore, she is elegant and petite enough in both manner and frame, to effortlessly glide into French savoire-faire.  Ozon only gives away her country of origin by doing close-up of her subtle, nervous and alert glances over her foreign surroundings, that are displaying fresh open wounds from the First World War, such as stern passport control.  
     Ozon appropriately deploys the worn torn landscape as seen from Anna`s train, leading gradually to fresh, au naturelle Campagne, to mirror Anna`s evolving internal psychological state. Having lost her fiancé in the war, she met Francois, her new Ami whilst he was visiting Frantz`s grave. The raison d'etre of new love after death, in a morbid sort of way.  I happily embrace this setting, knowing death is just a transformation, it seems perfectly logical for Anna to fall in love with the handsome, elegant man who lives in flesh and blood standing over her dead fiance`s grave, weeping.  Aptly named Francois--the French version of Frantz-- sadly, does not want to join in with our--Anna and the audience's--swift transition to him as Anna`s appropriate suitor.  
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    Interestingly, we--the audience and perhaps Anna--are led to believe, if I picked up Ozon`s cues correctly, into thinking that our dear moustach-ed, wannabe hero is conflicted by the cultural contrasts that set him nationalistically apart from teutonic routes.  Whilst Anna embraces French culture by dressing a la mode to the "ball" that Francois invites her to, Francois is altogether lost when Anna encourages him to clap along merrily to the musicians and country dancers before him.  However, after a beer prompted again with Anna`s encouragement, he accepts a dance from a group of study mädels dressed in simple country frocks and almost finds himself in some sort of Heimat.  
     This does not however last for long.  Anna, anticipating Francois` good night kiss, is left stood alone as he sullenly ambles in a certain delicate way, in a manner that is reminiscent of both Pink Panther and Poirot. Perhaps Ozon has created such a stereotypically French man, so that there is somewhat of an absurdity to his character.  His type is easily exportable to other countries as being quintessentially French. In contrast, he gives Anna more complex dimensions, simultaneously both German and French, embodying both aspects freely and revealing the social tensions between the countries through her character.  Even when she hears of the tragic truth that Francois is withholding, she turns into a kind of Ophelia. Tormented she embodies the hate, separation and tragedy of war that is brought about by Nationalism and power, only to transform again into a determined detective, in search of the truth in France.  
    Anna turns to faith to find her way.  Perhaps a little foolishly as I note later, I find myself thinking, Yes! Love is all you need.  Just as we are fooled into falling for this belief, we are rudely awakened. Like Juliette finding herself in her chosen tomb, except the tomb here, is France.  Anna experiences the determined and hateful rise of national sentiment, just as Francois did in Germany. Anna sits silently as France`s National Anthem is almost yelled out in a bar she is sat in.  A pale, stern and silent woman, looks on. Her dark eyes are fixed ahead of her like a crow`s that has no merci (pun intended) for a field mouse. 
    This film could not have been released at a better time.  With Britain increasingly out of the picture of Europe, France and Britain are being asked to face their historical demons and look either to each other, to lead Europe to a safe a stable entity.  Or to fight against each other in Nationalistic sentiment that only knows divide and rule.  
   Interestingly, Ozon, being very much a French Director, has given the Germanic character of Anna more complexity that Francois, perhaps because of his well known affinity with women. He doesn`t shy away exploring women's multitudes and how this is intertwined with their social condition, unlike many thinly sketched out heroines in film today.  Perhaps it is both that and what may be happening actually in present day France.  With the rise of Marie LePenn and an insistence to reach back to an imaginary, pure past, in which French tradition and sentiment is firmly planted within the land.  The problem, as we have discovered through centuries of war, is that that kind of thinking  never breaks the vicious cycle of separation.
    Ozon uses cinematic devices to give us hope of new life after death.  He gradually filters in colour, but keeps it somewhat faded.  He brings it back into scenes so delicately.  We are only able to notice colour upon Anna`s cheeks, the hazel of her eyes, or Francois black as ebony hair, when it is already upon us.  He just as gently drains out the colour back to Monochrome again, but this effect is more noticeable and deceivingly sudden, making the film seem more sullen than before.
   Anna`s final scene is both unexpected and alludes to the irony that life plays out on us, bringing us back to comic tragedy and leaving us wondering. Like a witty fool, Ozon plays with our foolish wit.