It’s June 1945, and Auschwitz victim and survivor Nelly (Nina Hoss) is badly injured and her face destroyed. She returns to her hometown of Berlin accompanied by Lene (Nina Kunzendorf), a Jewish Agency employee and Nelly’s friend from the pre-war days. Having barely recovered from facial surgery and having inherited a considerable amount of money, Nelly sets out to find her husband, piano player Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), the love of her life, despite warnings from Lene that he could’ve been the one who betrayed her to the Nazis.
Described by The Independent as “A Berlin thriller with hints of Hitchcock and plenty of plot twists”, “A complex mystery of disguise and deceit” by the The Guardian and a “Rebirth and a Ruse in Postwar Germany” by The New York Times , German film-maker and storyteller Christian Petzold brings us touching war drama, Phoenix.
When Nelly does run into Johnny, he fails to recognise her.
How could Johnny fail to spot the truth after spending so long in close proximity to this woman he says resembles his dead wife?
Perhaps he’s plagued by a guilty conscious that stops him from seeing the truth?
This is a film that journeys into the painful realms of personal connections, suppressed desires, tensions, mistaken identities, memories and memory loss, and moral conundrums between the past and present.
Watch Phoenix, Saturday 19 November at 8.30pm, part of WM Storytellers: 30 Films From Across the Globe, 8.30pm every night in November.