Terrence Malick’s lyrical, haunting tale of an Austrian farmer who defied the Third Reich.
August Diehl stars as Franz Jägerstätter, a modest, soft-spoken Catholic. Living among Austria’s mountains, Franz and wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) are happily running their farm, deeply involved in the community as they raise their three young daughters. Having served compulsory military duty, Franz is unnerved when Hitler takes power, demanding an oath of loyalty from his soldiers. Unable to violate his personal understanding of right and wrong, he faces a harrowing test of faith and spirit as the fear of execution threatens.
As much a career summation as Scorsese’s The Irishman, A Hidden Life combines every stylistic element from across Malick’s near 50-year filmography, channeling the earthiness of early classics Badlands and Days of Heaven with whirling, voiceover montages prevalent in his recent work. Terrific central performances from Diehl and Pachner give sombre strength and real emotional core to a couple caught between corrosive power and the new horror of their once beautiful home.
Destined to be one of the year’s most distinctive films, certain to be divisive. The manner of all Malick’s films to one degree or another (and too long). (Research Chris Coetsee) Brilliant Chris.