Set in a reimagined contemporary France, Transit has all the elements of the 1942 suspense novel it is based on. German screenwriter and director, Christian Pezold, uses Anna Segher’s novel by the same name to create his characters.
Georg (Franz Rogowski) finds himself fleeing from Nazi-occupied Paris without documentation. He stumbles upon the opportunity to take the passport and visa of a deceased author who had planned to escape to Mexico via a ship leaving Marseille. After taking on this identity, Georg tries to find a room in Marseille, waits in queues to confirm documentation, and becomes involved in the lives of other more legitimate refugees whose situations are more desperate and hopeless. Meanwhile the author’s wife, Marie (Paula Beer), has come to the Marseille harbor to meet up with her husband so that they can flee together.
The emotional coloration and light, along with the intense performance of the key actors, give the film a melodramatic feel, apparently a signature technique of the director. Although billed as a German film with subtitles, Petzold successfully creates a situation where the viewer is intentionally left out of conversations.
Transit is a timely film that addresses many of the current complexities and confusion around our global refugee crisis. Recommended for high school student viewing. Opens today in some U.S. theaters after a fall debut in Canada; on disc in June. (Music Box)