Hoss is a wondrously subtle actress whose range hasn’t been at all displayed in her few American films and TV shows (small roles in Homeland and A Most Wanted Man). This is her sixth film with director and co-writer Christian Petzold, who regularly explores the tensions between illusion and reality, the political and the personal. He has a fine visual sense, especially adept at using color (or the lack of it) to express undercurrents of emotion. His use of music to suggest wavering themes, in this case different versions of Kurt Weill’s “Speak Softly,” is white-light haunting.
The Criterion Collection’s 1080p transfer—struck from a 2K scan of the original 35mm negative, with a surround soundtrack mastered at 24 bits from the original digital audio master files—is nearly as riveting as the print I saw at the IFC Center in New York. Colors are drenched and dreamy, or smoldering and murky (with fine shadow detail), depending on the desired effect. The special features consist mainly of interviews with Hoss, Petzold, and others in the cast and crew, talking very eloquently and perceptively about the historical context and the artistic choices they made.
Studio: Criterion Collection, 2014
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio Format: 5.1 surround
Length: 98 mins.
MPAA Rating: --
Director: Christian Petzold
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf