Christian Petzold’s (Barbara, EC 2012) existential noir is based on Anna Seghers’ novel Transit (1944). German Georg, like everyone else, wishes to leave France while it’s still possible. Before going, he gets hold of some personal belongings of an author who has commited suicide. Among them, he finds a new written work and a letter guaranteeing a visa.
Petzold isn’t making a historical epic here, as the temporal setting of the film isn’t made clear. There are no swastikas to be seen, and the sounds of sirens could just as well be from French street riots or the 2015 terrorist attacks, a time of national emergency in Paris.
Franz Rogowski as George is like a German Matti Pellonpää, a quietly charismatic man of the streets with a heart of gold.