© Piffl Medien GmbH

Germany/France 2018

Opening 5 Apr 2018

Directed by: Christian Petzold
Writing credits: Christian Petzold, Anna Seghers
Principal actors: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman, Maryam Zaree

It’s the beginning of World War II and German troops occupy France, right outside Paris. People are “in transit,” hoping to board a ship to escape from various fates which might await them. Many go to the harbor city of Marseille, which they can enter only if they prove that they have the correct papers to move on to another country such as Mexico. As a result, these refugees line up outside the Mexican and other consulates and await a turn to settle the problems of fleeing the country. George (Franz Rogowski) has a good chance, since he has taken over the identity of a friend named Weidel, who committed suicide when faced with too many problems. Weidel was a writer (George has his unpublished manuscript in his luggage) and, most important, he had a transit visa for himself and his wife. While in Marseille, George visits Melissa (Maryam Zaree) and her daughter Driss (excellently played by Lilien Batmann). Melissa’s husband Heinz died while trying to flee. However, most important, George meets another woman: Marie (Paula Beer) and they fall in love. Gradually we learn that Marie is desperately seeking her husband who has disappeared. Who is this husband? Naturally, it is Weidel, the person, whom George is impersonating in order to leave the country.

Confusing at times: is it all about leaving or, maybe, being left? Perhaps it’s better to remain with a loved one than to escape. Perhaps this isn’t really about refugees, although it is a pertinent topic today, considering the large numbers which have amassed in Germany. Based on the 1944 book by Anna Segher who had similar experiences, having fled to Mexico during World War II, perhaps it’s really a love story. The main musical background is the song “We’re on the road to nowhere” by Talking Heads, which tells the story perfectly in a nutshell. Transit was in competition at the 2018 Berlinale Film Festival, and there was all-around disappointment that it did not win a prize. Actors, director, script, photography are all highly prize-worthy. (Becky Tan)

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