Critic Consensus: Tense, complex, and drenched in atmosphere, Phoenix is a well-acted, smartly crafted war drama that finds writer-director Christian Petzold working at peak power.
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as Nelly Lenz
as Johannes "Johnny"
as Lene Winter
as Soldier On Bridge
as Club Owner
as Soldier in Club
as Young Woman
as Central Office Staff Member
as Phoenix Club Band (Drums)
as Phoenix Club Band (Double Bass)
as Phoenix Club Band (Guitar)
as Phoenix Club Band (Violin)
as Phonix Club Band (Piano)
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Critic Reviews for Phoenix
The movie is fluid, suspenseful, and preposterous-although, more historically than psychologically, and not necessarily in a negative sense.
Both a powerful allegory for post-war regeneration and a rich Hitchcockian tale of mistaken identity.
Life is a bombed-out, soulless cabaret in Christian Petzold's Phoenix, a haunting portrait of identity, loss and the search for answers in post-WWII Berlin.
Sometimes implausible and always engrossing, "Phoenix" takes us to postwar Berlin, a shell of a city where concentration camp survivor Nelly is a shell of herself.
You may not buy all the story twists, but perhaps the script is not meant to be taken literally.
Audience Reviews for Phoenix
The plot is so nuanced, the characters so keenly observed and realized that it's shocking that the movie is also so economical . . . No moment is wasted as the film builds to what I can only describe as a perfect ending.
A very moving story of a woman who has been betrayed to the Nazis and returns to her home town to reconcile with her husband despite having a new face. The final scene remains long after the film has ended.
There's a lot of ambiguity here. Pale and thin, she has returned like a ghost in search of her past. She visits the bombed out rubble of her bygone home like a specter floating over the ruins. Nina was a singer before the war. Her husband, a pianist. As a Holocaust survivor, Nelly has risen from the ashes of the past. Phoenix symbolically describes her progress, but it's also the name of the club at which she finds her husband working. Kurt Weill's melody, "Speak Low" is a recurring score that pops up here and there. The tone of the drama is pensive and atmospherically haunting, but it's very vague. The way these two souls interact is a long drawn out game of deception and remembrance. You'll have lots of questions as the narrative unfolds. What exactly are these people thinking? Their tentative relationship is based on cryptic intentions. Director Christian Petzold keeps all of these questions unanswered on purpose as Nina goes in search of her former self and for truth. Just simmer for awhile in the pensive mood. The mystery ultimately builds to a perfectly constructed moment of clarity. fastfilmreviews.com
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