“Undine” premiered in competition at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival, where it took home the FIRESCI Prize as well as the Silver Bear for best actress for star Paula Beer. She stars alongside Franz Rogowski, reuniting the duo from Petzold’s lauded 2018 thriller “Transit.” Petzold takes a different approach in “Undine,” with the romantic drama marking a new direction for the filmmaker following a string of emotional dramas with historical themes related to German identity.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Set in Berlin, Undine (Beer) works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. She knows all about the Humboldt Forum, and has a knack for dressing. She is nonchalantly beautiful, and the way she imparts her knowledge about the city that was built on a swamp is as professional as it is graceful. But Undine’s world collapses when the man she loves leaves her. Soon the ancient myth catches up with her and Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.”
In his review out of the Berlinale, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “‘Undine’ will disappoint [Petzold] fans because it reduces those potent themes to a shallower romantic ghost story that never goes quite as deep as its predecessors. However, Petzold remains a master of capturing frantic characters doomed by dark obsessions, and while ‘Undine’ is certainly a minor work, it still shows evidence of a master’s hand.”
Petzold also penned the screenplay, as he has for most of his films.
Following her role in “Transit,” Beer is quickly becoming one of Germany’s most in demand actresses. The same year “Transit” came out, she also starred in “Never Look Away,” a historical drama from “The Lives of Others” director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Before that, she starred in François Ozon’s post-WWII drama “Frantz,” for which she won the Venice Film Festival’s Marcello Mastroianni Award recognizing an emerging actor or actress.
Films will release “Undine” in theaters and digital platforms on June 4. Check out the beguiling first trailer below: