Rated 3.0

Christian Petzold's quietly mournful post-World War II elegy Phoenix whispers infinite thematic and narrative echoes of Vertigo, but the film's cold-blooded aloofness fails to fully captivate. As the war comes to a close, a horribly burned concentration camp survivor named Nelly (Nina Hoss) is smuggled across the German border and into a medical clinic, where the doctor offers her a new face—the old ones are “out of fashion.” Nelly insists on keeping as much of her old face as possible, and returns to Berlin to rehab and reconnect with Johnny, the husband who betrayed her to the Nazis. Phoenix is the name of a creepo nightclub in the American sector, but Nelly is also a literal phoenix, rising from her own scorched ashes to live anew. Petzold slowly sketches out a world struck dumb by self-imposed amnesia, and Phoenix ends at a wallop of a destination, but it's not an especially compelling journey. D.B.