From the very start of Frantz, in which you have to look twice to ascertain that yes, the image really is in both colour and black and white; you know that you are about to be immersed in a story with hidden depths.
As the scene moves into a small German town, where WWI has just ended and the inhabitants are trying to come to terms with their loss, not only of the war but also of their loved ones, you meet Anna (Paula Beer). Every day, she visits the grave of her fiancé, Frantz, who was killed while fighting the French, so she is surprised to find flowers on Frantz’s grave – and even more so when she discovers that a Frenchman left them there.
The following day, she returns to the cemetery and finds an emotional Adrien (Pierre Niney) once again at the grave. Pleased to meet this friend of her fiancé, she invites Adrien to visit with Frantz’s parents so he can share some of his stories about their son. In a world without social media, mobile phones and emails, you feel the desperation of the family to hear anything about the loved one they sent off to war and then never saw again. And while the stories of Frantz are poignant, they also breathe new life into his memory, bringing comfort.
However, for Anna, it’s the first step on her journey of self-discovery. Director François Ozon lets this play out mainly in black and white, but also interjects scenes of colour that bleed into this world of grief and symbolise vibrant memories and emotions.
Frantz deals with life and death, but also resilience, and the idea that sometimes, a lie may be kinder than honesty. While it’s tragic, it leaves you with a feeling of hope. As no matter what unpleasantness is thrown at her, Anna shows us that we all have the ability to not only cope with it, but to move on from it and embrace life.
Frantz is on general release from 12 May