Phoenix excels at something so seemingly simple. One could easily dismiss the actions that take place within Phoenix as mere melodrama, with a story of post-traumatic stress of a Holocaust survivor, confused identity and conflicted romantic feelings. Yet, what separates Phoenix from such fare is its gorgeously personal look at its lead character’s reintegration into a world she’s been so far gone from and her genuine conflicting emotions.
The heavy lifting on that end is mainly on the shoulders of actress Nina Hoss, giving so much layer to this character struggling with her own identity on multiple levels. It’s all conveyed through her gradual rise in confidence that somewhat mirrors the metaphoric phoenix that rises from ashes. She manages to find her way through the darkness that consumed her life in a way that feels authentic by the ending, one that comes with the sudden revelations and sacrifices that constantly bring up the potential stakes. This isn’t without some support from other cast members like Ronald Zehrfeld or Nina Kunzendorf or director Christian Petzold. His bold use of tonal lighting and well placed camera angles manage to evoke so much about the characters’ journey. All of this culminates in one of the most effective gut punches of an ending in recent memory. A gem from2015 worth seeking. Immediately.
Date Seen: 1/10/16
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 bandaged faces