Christian Petzold on the embers of the moment in love

Leon (Thomas Schubert) and Nadja (Paula Beer), in


Christian Petzold “retains” the summer, as if it were the last. Here are ashes as fireflies, a luminescent beach and a game of verbal ping-pong that starts at four and won’t finish all the way. In The Red Skyhis tenth feature film, Grand Jury Prize in Berlinthe German director delivers a Rohmerian tale at a time of disruption, with a quartet of actors who constantly deconstruct the story with astonishing fluidity.

Petzold is not the only one to revisit the work of the author of Pauline at the beach (1983) and green ray (1986), while reinventing the scenarios: the characters mutate, the social cles mingle and the stories expand to other horizons. Each summer, new tales arrive in theaters, continuing the novel of the holidays, this free time when we “make movies”. quote Eva in August (2019), by Spaniard Jonas Truebaa sublime stroll through the streets of Madrid; the tasty On Boarding (2020), by Guillaume Brac, where a few galley slaves try their luck at the campsite; or the intense Ava (2017), by Léa Mysiusabout a young girl (Noée Abita) who loses her sight and captures the last “lights” on the beach.

Christian Petzold inscribes his story in German romanticism with a house set in a clearing, from which one can escape as if by magic to reach the forest, the sea… Two friends, Leon (Thomas Schubert) and Felix (Langston Uibel), who met in art school, are going away for a few days to finish their work – photos to produce for Felix and a second novel for Leon. When they arrive, they discover a surprise guest in the person of Nadia (Paula Beer), a magnetic beauty who makes the boys drop like flies in her red dress. Paula Beer starred in Petzold’s previous film, Undine (2020)inspired by the myth of the mermaid and the first part of a trilogy that The Red Sky continues.

Sharp exchanges

To this trio is soon added David (Enno Trebs), who, during the summer, works as a lifeguard. He has all the attributes, spends a night with Nadia, then the two lovers simply become friends. Everything would be light if Leon weren’t prostrate in his discomfort and his smugness: this second novel haunts him, and no one can understand him, he thinks, neither the rescuer at sea nor Nadia. Desire surfaces without being the subject of discussion, contrary to Rohmer’s work, and love takes place offscreen. As if Christian Petzold wanted to do otherwise, starting by examining his most frustrated character.

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