Based on the novel by Anna Seghers, you know in the first few intense frames of Transit that this story will resonate not only with the heart, but remind one of the similarities surrounding immigration issues we face right now in America and Jews fleeing Germany to France after the invasion.
The film opens in France where we are introduced to Georg (Franz Rogowski) as he desperately attempts to flee. Stumbling upon a tragic murder and manuscript, Georg assumes the author – Weidel’s identity as a means to safely continue travel. As if things couldn’t become more complicated, Georg keeps running into Weidel’s wife Marie (Paula Beer) in Marseilles, who consistently mistakes Georg for her dead husband who she doesn’t know is deceased.
With elements of Cold War, Casablanca and many other throwbacks to classic Hollywood film-noir flicks, Transit is a complicated buffet of a man who discovers love and responsibility for someone other than himself. He navigates through life in the present with nothing to lose until he loses his best friend and the love of his life.
There are many moments that have stuck with me well beyond the credits. Watching the beauty of the countryside from the window of a rapid fire train as it glides from one destination to the next. Georg’s connection with Driss (Lilien Batman), who immediately transports him to his own childhood prompting him to sing is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. The moment in which a woman he meets by chance takes her own life rather than live an existence of loneliness. And then there’s that final moment, where every time the door to the cafe opens Georg envisions Marie. Marie who represents the type of love that can’t be destroyed by space or time. It lives on forever in your soul, whether that soul still inhabits the earth or not.
Last but not least, through Transit and the direction of Christian Petzold you are reminded of a section of the world that literally has to flee from the norm to create a better life and unrequited love that can last for a moment or a lifetime.
The lyrics to the haunting end credits music by David Byrne’s Road to Nowhere express how I feel about Transit the best..
Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out
We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Taking that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride
I’m feeling okay this morning
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go
Produced by the Match Factory and Music Box Films Transit hits theatres on March 1st.