German director Christian Petzold’s spicy and sometimes ferociously funny Afire is a tonic for moviegoers fed up with dull, boring characters who are sweet, crushable, likable, and relatable. . First, let’s take a look at this exuberant young author waiting in the countryside for the publisher’s consideration of his unfortunately titled sophomore novel, The Club Sandwich. Let’s see. He fears it won’t work, but his arrogance is more stubborn and more exhausting than doubt. However, although this writer is rough, he is by no means insipid. He’s a fun bad guy.
The more you learn, the more there is for this pathetic creature to expect from Petzoldt. One of the most definitely entertaining and surprising filmmakers working today, Petzold makes films that are sharp, visually intelligent, and psychologically sophisticated. He prefers to work in traditional genres to suit his own purposes, drawing on various cinematic traditions such as classic Hollywood, European art films and avant-garde films. He is perhaps best known in the United States for “Barbara” (2012) and “Transit” (2019). In this work, one character is in East Germany and the other is in limbo like the current Nazis, and it is an atmospheric thriller trying to escape from the state. Fear is both a device of power and a condition of existence.
“Afire” is lighter in tone and feel. Petzold said he was particularly influenced by Eric Rohmer’s films and French and American coming-of-age stories set in the summer. But he likes to jumble it up, and “Afire” is a teasing tale in which the writer and a friend find their car stranded on a country road quickly breaking down. It starts with an eerie sequence. As night falls the surrounding forest darkens as well and now looks like the setting of a horror movie where naive children with mutilated legs are sacrificed to the cinema gods.
Writer Leon (Thomas Schubert) and friend Felix (Langston Uibel) arrive relatively unscathed at their destination, a villa on the Baltic coast of Germany. This compact and charming house is owned by Felix’s mother and has his two bedrooms and a leaky roof. There, the men are left alone while Leon waits for a publisher, while Felix prepares his art school portfolio. However, when they arrive, they discover that her mother had invited a third, a strange man named Nadja (Paula Biel). She is nowhere to be seen, but her traces, such as wine glasses on her table and discarded clothes on her floor, permeate her home.