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Undine (15*)

BFI London Film Festival 2020

A still from the film Undine

Paula Beer embodies a modern-day incarnation of the mermaid myth, in the latest from contemporary German cinema’s most audacious storyteller, Christian Petzold.

In films including Yella, Phoenix and the recent Transit, Christian Petzold has offered a panoramic take on Germany present and past, drawing on cinema history to take exhilarating risks with the pleasures of narrative.

His most playful film to date, Undine is at once a quasi-realist contemporary drama and an evocative rewriting of the German myth of the water nymph. Paula Beer (Frantz) plays a historian of Berlin urbanism, who is undergoing a romantic crisis when she has a literally explosive encounter with industrial diver Christoph (Beer’s Transit co-star Franz Rogowski).

Petzold skates elegantly and provocatively on the edge of the impossible – and against the odds, weaves his magic in an entertainment that’s beautifully acted, eerily moving and, as ever, acutely intelligent. 

Germany 2020 Dir Christian Petzold 90 min

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