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#TIFF19 Review: A Hidden Life (Masters)

September 11, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Terrence Malick used to take long hiatuses between his films, but the reclusive director has become quite prolific in the years since his 2011 magnum opus The Tree of Life, having released multiple films since then. Now Malick returns once again with A Hidden Life, a World War II drama that is based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a humble Austrian farmer who shares a quiet life tending to the land with his wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) and their daughters. With the war ravaging Europe, and Nazi ideology spreading to even those in the faith community, Franz undergoes military training but risks his life when he refuses to swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler, becoming a conscientious objector.

While A Hidden Life follows more of a traditional narrative than Malick’s other recent works, it’s still a film that is distinctly his, unfolding through sweeping scenes of characters existing in nature, matched by hushed, prayerful voiceover. This is an approach that allows for reflection upon those who, in their own quiet ways, gave up everything to resist taking part in the evils of the world. The film is filled with spectacular and haunting images courtesy of cinematographer Jörg Widmer, who steps up to the plate after working as a camera operator on several of Malick’s recent films.

While the film does feel a bit long at almost three hours, when some trimming might have brought elements of the story into sharper focus, A Hidden Life is a beautiful, poetic and spiritual work about standing firm in your beliefs. A must see for admirers of Malick.

Valerie Pachner and August Diehl in A Hidden Life

Public Screenings:

Monday, September 9th – 1:00 PM at Elgin Theatre

Wednesday, September 11th – 2:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Friday, September 13th – 3:00 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 9:00 AM at Scotiabank Theatre

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