For a director once notorious for taking his sweet time between projects, the 2010s was uncharacteristically productive for Terrence Malick. While it was six years in between The New World and The Tree of Life (with his longest break being 20 years between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line), he has gone on to make five features since the release ofTree of Life in 2011, to varying degrees of critical success, with many of them taking an even looser approach to narrative than audiences were already accustomed to. His latest, however, is something that even those who may not usually enjoy the pace of Malick can find something in a film that is still long and testing, but also quite graceful and beautiful in the face of a subject matter filled with darkness and terror.
A Hidden Life focuses on Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (portrayed by August Diehl) during the Second World War. Franz leads a simple life in his small rural community with his wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) and their three daughters. When War breaks out, it is not too long before Franz and the other able-bodied men of his village are called up to fight. When told to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler and the Third Reich, Franz refuses, landing him in prison, facing a trial and a likely death sentence. With mounting pressures from his church, family, and community, Franz is faced with a choice; stand up for his beliefs and face certain death, or bend to the will of the Reich and a regime he deems to be evil and possibly make it through the war to see his family grow.
Full article at VultureHound, originally published January 17th 2020.