The next screening of the Vernon Film Society is Transit and comes from the German director Christian Petzold who brought us the riveting masterpiece Barbara several years ago.
Another expertly crafted work, Transit follows one man fleeing the Nazi invasion and which launches the viewer into a narrative mind game. 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 other desperate souls who’ve been left behind, including a young boy and the widow (Paula Beer) of the dead man he’s posing as.
From there, Transit launches into a tangled matrix that defies time and crosses parallel worlds including both past and present. Both subtle and dynamic, Rogowski’s performance leaves you captivated, allowing viewers to suspend their disbelief and be transported across multiple timelines.
Liberally adapting the Second World War-set novel by Anna Seghers, Petzold masterfully conjures a fever dream-fuelled, noir-tinged romantic thriller that’s equally indebted to Casablanca and current affairs. He mounts an existential adventure film that sets the senses firing with its imagination and quickens the pulse with its plot twists and will definitely challenge the audience.
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 Second World War-era story about immigrants fleeing oppression is relevant to the experience of immigrants right now.
In German and French with English subtitles. Transit will be screening Nov. 14 at the Galaxy Cinemas. Show times are 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. and all tickets are $7. Advance tickets at the Bean Scene.