Transit & the Films of Christian Petzold ACMI presents

Phoenix

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“A post-war masterwork by way of Vertigo”

Slant

June, 1945. Badly injured, her face disfigured, Auschwitz survivor Nelly (the formidable Nina Hoss) returns to what remains of Berlin. She is accompanied by Lena, (Nina Kunzendorf) a Jewish Agency employee and friend from pre-War days who urges Nelly to consider a future in Haifa or Tel Aviv. Barely recovered from facial surgery, Nelly ignores Lena’s advice and sets out to find her musician husband, Johnny, (Ronald Zehrfeld), a figure implicated in her arrest.  

Nelly tracks Johnny down in a club in the American sector of the devastated city, but he – convinced beyond doubt that his wife has perished – sees only a resemblance to his former spouse. Hoping to secure Nelly’s inheritance, Johnny suggests that she impersonate his late wife. Stunned and confused by his failure to recognise her, Nelly gives her name as Esther and enters into Johnny's intrigue. 

"Petzold's riveting film...is an engrossing reflection on the postwar reconstruction of identity couched as a noirish thriller of mistaken identity...a precisely and exquisitely crafted chamber piece, resonant and gripping, softly building to a stunning finale" Film Society Lincoln Center