With the Toronto International Film Festival continuing apace, we in the outside world are beginning to get more tantalizing glimpses of the critical winners (and losers). In the winning category, the critics seem to enjoy Phoenix, a so-called Hitchcockian thriller set in post-World War II Berlin. The film concerns a concentration camp victim searching for her husband and discovering more than she bargained for. Today, the first trailer hit the web and it certainly makes Phoenix look intriguing.
The film stars Nina Hoss as Nelly, a woman who managed to survive interment at a concentration camp and returns to East Berlin in search of the husband and the life that she left behind. She’s forced to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair part of her face damaged by a bullet wound, meaning that she only bares a small resemblance to her former self. This is traded on in the trailer, as Nelly seems to find her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), who does not recognize her and had believed her dead. Nelly continues to be haunted by the rumors that it was her beloved husband who betrayed her to the Nazis.
The trailer gives Phoenix a strong Vertigo-like vibe, this time from the point of view of the woman as Nelly poses as her own lookalike. The confusion of post-war Germany further complicates the plot, not to mention the growing mistrust between Nelly and her husband as she seeks the truth behind her betrayal.
So far, the responses coming out of TIFF have been quite positive. The trailer makes a good case for the film as a excellent post-war thriller from acclaimed German director Christian Petzold (Jerichow, Barbara), and I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out.
Phoenix will premiere in Germany on September 25. It has no U.S. release date as yet, so you will just have to make do with the trailer below.