© Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH

Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull
Germany 2021

Opening 2 Sep 2021

Directed by: Detlev Buck
Writing credits: Detlev Buck, Daniel Kehlmann, Thomas Mann
Principal actors: Jannis Niewöhner, Petra Berndt, Katja Flint, Christian Friedel, Annette Frier

An unfortunate event in the family of Felix Krull (Jannis Niewöhner) causes him to leave for Paris in 1900. He takes on the job of elevator attendant in the Grand Hotel and soon advances to become a waiter in the hotel restaurant. His talents are also required as call boy for a hotel resident: the rich Madame Houpflé (Maria Furtwängler), whose jewelry, when sold, provides him with another step up the social ladder. His real love is Zaza (Liv Lisa Fries), who helps him avoid becoming conscripted for the military. He meets Marquis Louis de Venosta (David Kross), another hotel guest, and, during a long champagne dinner, he shares stories of his childhood growing up in Frankfurt. He says, “Being poor doesn’t help one become used to being poor.” The Marquis is also in love with Zaza. His father plans to send him out into the world on a year-long trip, but how can he leave Zaza behind? Who can help? Naturally: Felix, who can draw upon his experiences as an impostor (Hochstapler).

Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull is a book by Thomas Mann, who began writing it in 1910, and finally produced a relatively final copy in 1954. An earlier film version appeared in 1957, filmed in Hamburg in black and white. There was a TV series in 1982. Now, we once again have the opportunity to go back to Paris (actually filmed in Bavaria, Germany) more than 100 years ago to share the lives of the upper class and those who strive for this position. Here, all of the actors are amazing, especially Jannis Niewöhner as the eponymous character Felix, who, through creativity and fashionable good looks, rises above his simple beginning, willing to sacrifice love for money. David Kross is realistic as the rich boy, willing to sacrifice all for love. Maria Furtwängler is beautiful; Liv Lisa Fries as Zaza has her own goals. Many who have read the book will recognize that director Detlev Buck presents his own excellent definition of the story, which does not always correspond with Thomas Mann’s original version. Perhaps one of the gifts of the book is that it allows for various roads of comprehension. Do not miss this film. (Becky Tan)

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