Phoenix Unrisen

A slow burn, more of a smolder, then but a fizzle.  With a little pop at the end.  Like a breakfast cereal, perhaps.  Or Chinese soup.

Phoenix 2015 - poster smallI’ve always lauded films that know that sometimes saying nothing is much more powerful than spelling everything out: Fargo and American Psycho serve as magnum opuses in their ability to optimize this narrative trick.  But a whole movie based on the idea doesn’t work — at least in this case.  Especially when you mix in blatant, amateurish continuity problems and a premise of unrecognized identity that could never happen, and you’ve got some problems on your hand.

A few positive attributes raise Phoenix, but not enough for a recommendation.  My only explanation of its off-the-chart Tomatometer score is loyalty to political correctness.  4/10

SPOILER ALERT!  He doesn’t recognize his own wife??!!  Oh, her face has been completely reconstructed.  WITH NO SCARS!!??  Her voice, her eyes, her exact same height — the handwriting!  None of this gives it away?  Give me a break!

The Tomatometer consensus:

Tense, complex, and drenched in atmosphere, Phoenix is a well-acted, smartly crafted war drama that finds writer-director Christian Petzold working at peak power.

Master at the top of his form my rear…. Barbara — not a very good movie — was better than Phoenix, so this isn’t Petzold’s top form — and I’m not sure he has one.  The more I think about it, what a stupid movie — and there’s nothing complex about it.  This is a very simple movie.  I’ll stick to 4/10 because once I exercised all my might to knock down the incredulities, I kept fairly well with the story.  But 4/10 is generous considering all the problems with this thing.