Movie:  Phoenix

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   It is 1945 and World War II has just ended.  Berlin is in ruins, and so is the face of a young German Jewish woman Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss).  She had been imprisoned in a concentration camp, and as the allies closed in to liberate the camp was shot in the head by an SS guard.  Somehow Nelly survived the wound, and was taken to a plastic surgeon by her friend Lene (Nina Kunzendorf).  The doctor performed a masterful job of reconstructive surgery, but Nelly does look somewhat different than before.

Lene is tired of the war and sickened by Germany, and tries mightily to convince her friend to emigrate with her to the new Jewish state that will become Israel.  But Nelly is not yet interested in the future.  She discovers her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld) has survived the war, and is working at the Phoenix night club in Berlin.  Nelly desperately wants to reunite with her husband and resume their marriage as if the war never happened.  But there are so many unanswered questions she must get answers to.  Will Johnny even recognize the new Nelly?  Does he want to get back together with Nelly?  And did he have anything to do with turning her in to the Nazis when they discovered her hiding place?

This is a very interesting film, one that concentrates primarily on one woman’s struggle to cope with surviving the nightmare of being in a concentration camp, and then trying to resurrect a new life that resembled her old one, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes in Greek mythology.  It is a stark tale but an interesting one.  A German language film with sub titles.


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