Afire, German director Christian Petzold’s latest movie is, among other things, extremely funny. This comes as a delightful surprise, because his previous work — like Barbara (2012), Phoenix (2014), Transit (2018) and Undine (2020) — was, as Tim Grierson writes in his just-posted L.A. Times piece, noted for its “incisive character studies [with] drum-tight narratives, thematic complexity and investigations of identity,” but not overt humor. Afire is set at a vacation home by the Baltic Sea, where a pretentious novelist (a terrific Thomas Schubert) mixes awkwardly with a group of old and new friends. From the Times piece: “When we did the table read, there was just nonstop laughter,” actor Schubert says during a separate interview. “He was really surprised by that, because he didn’t necessarily see it that way. At the same time, he was relieved because we’d found the right tonality for the story.”
We open Afire this Friday at the Royal and July 21 at the Laemmle Glendale and Town Center in Encino. Petzold will participate in a Q&A after the 7:10 pm, July 15 screening at the Royal. The Los Angeles engagement is co-presented by the Goethe-Institut.
“Another masterwork about characters who are trapped by internal and external circumstances from which they find it intensely difficult to escape.” ~ Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“In depicting a novice artist forced to unwrite everything to move forward, “Afire” also shows a veteran one open to self-editing, and vigorous self-renewal.” ~ Guy Lodge, Variety
“Deceptive simplicity makes way for illuminating depths.” ~ David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter