Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Main Cast: Thomas Schubert, Paula Beer
Country: Germany
Language: German
Runtime: 1h 42m

Renowned for its ability to delve into the intricacies of human behavior and emotion, European cinema often offers a departure from conventional storytelling. Same is the case with “Afire,” Germany’s 2023 Oscar entry, which defies expectations usually associated with the romantic comedy genre. While the genre typically aims to evoke butterflies in one’s stomach, “Afire” instead leaves you with a profound understanding of complex human emotions.

The film is set against the backdrop of a picturesque holiday home surrounded by the sea and a sprawling forest with a distant fire raging. It follows the journey of an aspiring writer and his friend, who unexpectedly find themselves sharing the abode with a female occupant. Soon, along with a group of friends, they begin to spend their days at sea and in the serenity of the home. However, the writer’s demeanor remains questionable as he often appears irritated and reluctant to join in.

Still from Afire

The narrative takes a nuanced turn when the writer, upon completing his manuscript, solicits feedback from the only female companion in the group. Instead of receiving accolades, his work is met with criticism, exacerbating his inner turmoil.

Unlike most Hollywood or Hindi films, European cinema does not thrive on hooks and thrills. It delves much deeper, therefore it requires patience and a willingness to experience the world it creates for you. ‘Afire’ is no different—it’s a complex character study where even romance is not seen on the surface but in unconventional and often inexplicable emotions. The film is absorbing and allows you to linger in its world while its characters quietly navigate their everyday lives.

Afire Trailer

Pankaj Madaan

A filmmaker and a screenwriter known for his comprehensive knowledge of world cinema and insightful commentary on the Hindi film industry.

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