TIFF review: A Hidden Life


A HIDDEN LIFE MAST D: Terrence Malick. U.S./Germany. 173 min. Sep 9, 1 pm, Elgin; Sep 11, 2:30 pm, Scotiabank 4; Sep 13, 3 pm, Scotiabank 1; Sep 14, 9 am, Scotiabank 2. Rating: NNNNN

Malick’s latest meditation on life, faith and dignity is his strongest since The Tree Of Life. It uses the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who declared himself a conscientious objector when he was conscripted into Hitler’s army, as a jumping-off point for the filmmaker’s signature questing aesthetic.

It’s also remarkably political, with Malick quoting Nazi rhetoric that specifically echoes Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant screeds.

A Hidden Life offers the requisite scenes of Jägerstätter (August Diehl) and his beloved wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) enduring conformist pressure, fascist harassment and military tribunals over Franz’s stance. But it’s all filtered through through Malick’s religious inquiry, swirling camerawork and meditative tone, which leads to a climax that’s as ecstatic as it is tragic.


A life-long Torontonian, Norman became the senior film writer for NOW in early 2008. Previously he had reviewed films for Metro newspapers across Canada and covered every video format imaginable (yes, even Beta).

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September 6, 2019

9:25 PM