Transit ★★★★★

I've been a fan of the contemporary German director Christian Petzold, and this is his best film so far. Based on a 1944 novel about a man fleeing the Nazis as they gradually occupy France, Petzold has intentionally updated it to current times, which makes for a disturbing analogy to the current rise of right-wing nationalism across Europe and the world right now and the hunt for targeted groups. Yet the film doesn't take an explicitly political focus. Rather it's a compelling study of people desperate to escape and complex decisions about who departs and who gets left behind.

The main character Georg (played by Franz Rogowski) takes the identity of political writer who has committed suicide, fleeing from Paris to Marseille, trying to book passage on a ship bound for Mexico. The various characters stuck in and trying to leave Marseille before the fascists arrive remind one a bit of themes in "Casablanaca" and indeed a cafe where refugees meet plays a significant role in the story. Dealing with embassy bureaucrats, people stuck in a Kafkaesque limbo, the frantic search for both money and papers - they're all here. Georg develops relationships with various refugees - the dead man's wife who is still searching for her husband, a conflicted and depressed physician, the deaf North African widow of a fellow refugee who's died and her young son - and they all have a story.

I would consider this one of the best films of 2018, and well-worth viewing. I watched it as a Netflix rental, and I see that it can be rented on Amazon Prime.

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