PASSAGES (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Eschewing the excesses of the typical love triangle melodrama, Ira Sachs’s Passages is a matter-of-fact portrait of love found and love lost held aloft by weighty performances by its three stellar leads, Franz Rogowski, Ben Wishaw and Adèle Exarchopoulos. Rogowski’s Tomas is at the center of the unfolding drama, an flighty and insecure filmmaker who is largely kept grounded by his sensible husband Martin (Wishaw) to whom he has been married for well over a decade.

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DISCO BOY (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Between Ira Sachs’s Passages and Giacomo Abbruzzese’s Disco Boy alone, 2023 is clearly a strong year for multi award-winning German actor Franz Rogowski. While Sachs’s films finds him working well in what is broadly an ensemble piece, Rogowski very much takes center stage in Disco Boy as Aleksei, a young Belarusian man who immigrates illegally to France and joins the Foreign Legion. Having learned the language through his love of French cinema, his military service will provide Aleks with a short cut to legal citizenship and a much-coveted French passport.

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UNDINE – Review by Liz Braun

A fairy tale gets a modern retelling in Undine, a symbol-laden love story from German director Christian Petzold (Phoenix; Transit). The 19th century Undine (by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque) was a water nymph who marries a human to get a soul; there are strings attached, however. It’s the same territory as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, or any other dark fable prior to being Disneyfied.

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