Panorama | Vancity Theatre Screening
With occupying forces closing in on Paris, a haunted refugee named Georg (Franz Rogowski) assumes a dead writer’s identity—and, more importantly, transit papers—and flees to Marseille in hopes of sailing safely to Mexico. However, he soon becomes entangled in the lives of the other desperate souls who’ve been left behind, including the widow (Paula Beer) of the man he’s posing as.
Liberally adapting the Second World War-set novel by Anna Seghers, Christian Petzold (Phoenix) masterfully conjures a fever dream-fuelled, noir-tinged romantic thriller that’s equally indebted to Casablanca and current affairs. And while Transit could likely content itself—and audiences—with simply being a high-concept exercise in skilfully colouring outside the temporal lines, Petzold mounts an existential adventure film that sets the synapses firing with its imagination and quickens the pulse with its plot twists.
"Conjuring a world where everyone will do what they must to escape certain doom—the major characters are all in transit between different countries and different identities—Petzold adds yet another disorienting spin by staging this action, set in 1942, against the backdrop of present-day France, with its modern cars and shops. Oddly enough, this stylistic strategy works beautifully, heightening the unsettling unreality of Georg’s life on the run and suggesting that this WWII-era story about immigrants fleeing oppression is relevant to the experience of immigrants right now." John Powers, Vogue
"Christian Petzold’s white-hot existentialist noir Transit is perhaps the best World War II film since Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, Petzold’s lean, rigorous filmmaking proves essential." Steve MacFalane, Slant
"A richly rewarding film, packed with ideas and riddles, that will surely benefit from repeat viewings." Ed Frankl, The Film Stage