Two films, shot through with compassion, integrity and sheer brilliance, have little else in common, but try to see them before they disappear from our local screens.
Frantz: A War Film With A Difference
By Ralph McAllister
Frantz, directed by the prolific Francois Ozon is set in 1919 Germany, not long after the end of World War One.
Young German Anna visits the grave of her fiancée only to find flowers placed there by a mysterious young Frenchman.
The story then moves to the village and family resentments, as the young man stays,
obviously racked with guilt.
Strong on emotion
Forgiveness and bitterness are central to the plot.
Frantz’s father says ” Every Frenchman is my son’s murderer”, anger echoed by the community at large.
Anna learns to change from rigidity to a reluctant understanding as her relationship develops with this stranger. A shimmering performance from Paula Beer, rightly has won awards for her.
The story is told in black and white with occasional magical shifts into colour.
It is also subtitled. If that begins to put you off, please don’t let it.
A short two hours with enough twists and turns to satisfy the most demanding Hitchcock fans, this film will stay in the memory for a very long time.
Angels in America
Eight hours of a play about AIDS seen in two screenings will probably make you stop reading this review.
Again I urge your forbearance.
This film by Tong Kushner was first seen on stage in America twenty five years ago.
This revival from the National Theatre of Great Britain was received with huge acclaim just recently in London.
Now, courtesy of live recordings, we can witness this searing production and decide whether it is relevant these days and is eight hours too much?
I saw the original productions all these years ago and confess that it was too painful for me then. Too many friends had died in the eighties after catching the virus.
Impressively written and acted
Now I can see the brilliance of the writing and the chilling predictions which are so accurately present today.
Kushner (not Jared!), has, as one of his central characters, Roy Cohn the notorious lawyer who was the legal adviser for the young Donald Trump.
His prejudice and his refusal to acknowledge his own homosexuality are given a blisteringly terrifying performance by actor Nathan (The Producers) Lane.
He is matched every step of the way by Andrew (Spider-Man) Garfield as Prior, the young man who is at death’s door.
Millennium Approaches the first part, is the better piece of writing while Perestroika, the second part, loses some momentum as we climb up to heaven and a surrealistic change that is never as involving as the plights of the mere mortals.
But what was totally unexpected was realising how very funny much of the script offers as relief from the tragedy.
I reeled out into Wellington sunshine and had to sit and enjoy just being back from a deeply moving experience, into a world of warmth and tolerance.