Arnon Grunberg



The story of “Phoenix”, a film directed by Christian Petzold, is highly improbable. A Jewish singer, Nelly, returns from the camps with a disfigured face and her German husband, who may or may not have betrayed her, doesn’t recognize her. The improbability of course is not the problem, but the director’s inability to take the improbability seriously.
You could argue that at best the film is a comment on postwar Germany shortly after May 1945, where acting as if nothing had happened was the common answer to the past, where daily life itself has become improbable.
But the last scene makes the film worth seeing. Nelly sings a song. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must sing.

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