7.3/10
15,393
72 user 266 critic

Phoenix (2014)

Trailer
2:05 | Trailer
A disfigured Holocaust survivor sets out to determine if the man she loved betrayed her trust.

Director:

Christian Petzold

Writers:

Christian Petzold (screenplay), Hubert Monteilhet (novel) | 1 more credit »
17 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Barbara I (2012)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital.

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock
Transit I (2018)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A man attempting to escape occupied France falls in love with the wife of a dead author whose identity he has assumed.

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese
Yella (2007)
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Yella is estranged from her possessive and violent husband; but he can't quite bring himself to give her up. When their fraught interaction finally comes to dramatic conclusion, Yella's life takes an odd shift.

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schönemann
Jerichow (2008)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The dishonorably discharged Afghanistan veteran Thomas returns to his home village of Jerichow. Ali, a local Turkish-German businessman, owner of a snack-bar chain, hires him as a driver. ... See full summary »

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, Hilmi Sözer
Wolfsburg (2003)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Philipp Gerber is a smart, but self-satisfied car salesman. In an inattentive moment at the wheel of his car, he runs over a young boy riding a bike and drives away. As he has feelings of ... See full summary »

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, Antje Westermann
Gespenster (2005)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Nina, an end-of-teenage orphan with mental problems, starts a new job as a garden cleaner when she meets Toni. They fell in love with each other, but soon Toni starts betraying Nina. In the... See full summary »

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Julia Hummer, Sabine Timoteo, Marianne Basler
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Clara and Hans are left-wing terrorists who have been sought by police for almost fifteen years. Their increasingly rebellious daughter Jeanne begins to pose a threat to their security when... See full summary »

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Julia Hummer, Barbara Auer, Richy Müller
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In Tuscany to promote his latest book, a middle-aged British writer meets a French woman who leads him to the village of Lucignano. While there, a chance question reveals something deeper.

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Stars: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Jean-Claude Carrière
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Liège, Belgium. Sandra is a factory worker who discovers that her workmates have opted for a EUR1,000 bonus in exchange for her dismissal. She has only a weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses in order to keep her job.

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée
The Souvenir (2019)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A young film student in the early '80s becomes romantically involved with a complicated and untrustworthy man.

Director: Joanna Hogg
Stars: Neil Young, Tosin Cole, Jack McMullen
Undine (2020)
Drama | Romance
Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Paula Beer, Jacob Matschenz, Franz Rogowski
45 Years (2015)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receives shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.

Director: Andrew Haigh
Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nina Hoss ... Nelly Lenz
Ronald Zehrfeld ... Johnny Lenz
Nina Kunzendorf Nina Kunzendorf ... Lene Winter
Trystan Pütter ... Soldat an der Brücke
Michael Maertens ... Arzt
Imogen Kogge Imogen Kogge ... Elisabeth
Felix Römer Felix Römer ... Geiger
Uwe Preuss ... Clubbesitzer
Valerie Koch ... Tänzerin
Eva Bay ... Tänzerin
Jeff Burrell ... Soldat im Club
Nikola Kastner Nikola Kastner ... Junge Frau
Max Hopp Max Hopp ... Der Mann
Megan Gay ... Mitarbeiterin Zentralstelle Halensee
Kirsten Block ... Wirtin
Edit

Storyline

In the aftermath of WWII, Nelly, a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, horribly disfigured from a bullet wound in her face, undergoes a series of facial reconstruction surgeries and decides to find her husband Johnny who works at the Phoenix club in Berlin. Undoubtedly, Nelly is stunning, yet, her new self is beyond recognition, so Johnny, the man who may have betrayed her to the Nazis, will never imagine that the woman in front of him who bears an uncomfortable and unsettling resemblance to his late wife, is indeed her. Without delay, and with the intention to collect the deceased's inheritance, Nelly will go along with Johnny's plot and she will impersonate the dead woman, giving the performance of a lifetime before friends and relatives in a complex game of deceit, duplicity, and ultimately, seduction. In the end, during this masquerade, as the fragile and broken Nelly tries to find out whether Johnny betrayed her or not, she will have to dig deep into her wounded ... Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An absolute knockout! A rich, Hitchcockian tale of mistaken identity. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief suggestive material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site | Official site [Japan] | See more »

Country:

Germany | Poland

Language:

German | English

Release Date:

25 September 2014 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Phoenix See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,296, 26 July 2015

Gross USA:

$3,184,472

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,793,245
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the fifth out of Christian Petzold's seven feature films to feature actress Nina Hoss. Also, it's his second film in a row after Barbara (2012) to star Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld in the leading roles. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lene Winter: [arriving at the border]
Soldat an der Brücke: Passport... Nice car. Where did you get it from?
Lene Winter: It's from Switzerland.
Soldat an der Brücke: Just like you?
Lene Winter: Like me.
Soldat an der Brücke: [whistles to the gate] They're from Switzerland. The girl too.
[to her passenger]
Soldat an der Brücke: I want to see your face.
Lene Winter: Can I talk to you?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of Return from the Ashes (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Johnny (Du Lump)
Written by Holger Hiller
Performed by Valerie Koch and Eva Bay
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Despite reservations with its choices of open resolutions, Phoenix is a stellar and quietly affecting film.
17 October 2014 | by Sergeant_TibbsSee all my reviews

Adapted from Hubert Monteilhet's novel 'Return from the Ashes,' director Christian Petzold's Phoenix has the air of a revisionist war film with a science-fiction twist. Granted, it has some liberties in the supposed advancement of medical science for the 1940s, featuring a surgery that's not even really possible today, but with its stark approach to its pulpy atmosphere, it's easy to buy into anything it wants to do because of its compelling narrative.

The film follows Nelly, played by Nina Hoss, a Jewish concentration camp survivor and former nightclub singer who's suffered severe disfigurement. She undergoes facial reconstruction, nearly looking like her old self, and tries to find peace with her lost previous identity. She heads to post-war Berlin to locate her estranged husband and partner in their former activism, played by Ronald Zehrfeld, but upon doing so he recruits her to help him on a scam to claim his wife's inheritance. As she looks almost alike, he moulds her to act like his wife did and have her 'return' and scoop up the money.

There's another liberty you have to buy in order to go along with Phoenix. That being, despite all the hints, at no point does her husband Johnny recognize Nelly until the inevitable moment. This redressing of a former lover plot line is quite reminiscent of Hitchcock's Vertigo, but with Johnny's indifference and greed it's a different spin, and we observe Nelly's submissive re- judgment of him. It thrives on the dramatic irony of when Johnny thinks that she isn't acting enough like his wife. It's fascinating to watch her rediscover herself, and a delight when she impresses him with how accurate she can be at times. All these minor contrivances work thematically to build a picture of a search for identity and heartbreaking betrayal. It's a refreshing perspective on a revision of a past life and then healing from it.

Christian Petzold and Nina Hoss' collaborations have been steadily building momentum as Phoenix, their 4th film together, gains buzz on the festival circuit. Clearly it is a beneficial partnership. Through her glassy eyed look nearly in tears and her anxious movements, Hoss faultlessly marries fragility with a burning motivation to disquiet her soul. She may be easily manipulated due to her weakened psychological and physical state, but she always has intentions that she's slowly building up to. Before taking board with her husband, she's assisted by Lene, played by Nina Kunzendorf, a fellow Jewish activist. Her performance is steely and enigmatic, and I can't help but want to know more about her and her motivations so it's a shame the film doesn't quite deliver in that regard.

Often times the film holds back on payoff, although it's often executed in thoughtful manners. Most strikingly is in the film's conclusion. In a way, it almost feels as though it's missing an entire third act. Perhaps the director felt it did not need an epilogue, but I was left hungry to explore the consequences. Hoss does admit that they didn't know how to end it. However, it is a remarkable display of restraint to leave it as open as it did and frankly it works with the slight nature of the film beforehand. But on the other hand it feels like Petzold simply ran out of ideas and is idly leaving the viewer to fill in the rest. The film constantly feels like it's building to something, and the ending changes everything in hindsight, but perhaps it works in the film's favour, to draw a comparison to The Sopranos' infamous final moment as it leaves you cold.

Despite the film's small scale, with most of it taking place in Johnny's small apartment, it does show off lush production design. Postwar rubble has never felt quite a mess like this since Saving Private Ryan. The film does try to take on a grander scale, implying that the formation of Israel is like Nelly and reborn from the ashes, but it works best when it's focused on the core relationship. The saturated but vivid cinematography contributes to its beguiling pulp tone and it holds a lot of tension in the air, complimenting the weight of the performances. It's a fascinating concept and well-executed script, and my only reservations with Phoenix come with its choice of the resolutions for its various plot threads. But these are up for debate, and they're ones worth engaging in for such an otherwise stellar and quietly affecting film.

8/10

Read more @ The Awards Circuit (http://www.awardscircuit.com/)


20 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 72 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed