Afire: Pentagon on Sadness

Much like Triangle of Sadness, (an Oscar 2023 nominated film), Afire, written and directed by Christian Petzold (Undine and Transit being his other most recent and popular), deals in part with the breakdown of relationships caused by sexual power dynamics.
What begins as a trio thrown together, two men on a working vacation with a woman living at the same house, becomes a pentagon of complications when the woman’s lover is invited to dinner. Odd numbers don’t mix well, two’s company three’s a crowd and a fifth wheel all time tested proofs.
After listening to a podcast interview of the director Petzold, I certainly have more appreciation for the story. As with all art, we can poo poo the value of a piece of art, but until we hear the artist’s motivation, judgments are somewhat unfair. Petzold was attempting to unpack or perhaps relieve himself of the guilt he feels for what a conceited brat he was in his mid twenties. I definitely relate to this regret as I was very immature. I would assume this is almost universal since the twenties is akin to a 5k race where you’re attempting to save money to become independent and successful and you’re also in the midst of trying on relationships in hope of finding a life long partner.
Thomas Schubert is the “lucky” actor who plays the horse’s twenty something behind and is excellent as the moody German who can’t seem to get a break and lacks the social skills to finesse his own fortune. Like a clumsy dancer, he certainly has a right to ‘be on the dance floor’, yet his grouchy nature repels those around him. Much like Tom Burke in the Souvenir, he is equal parts porcupine and sympathetic teddy bear.
Paula Beer is the gorgeous independent toughie who calls his bluff and the story, though a little to engineered in parts, is still worthy of seeing and thinking about.
I will call it here (if no one else has) that this would be another in a series of Maligned White Male Movies-Shortcomings, Barbie, Past Lives-where women exhibit appalling behavior and its simply fine and yet the men are not allowed to ever ‘step out of line’.
Still, worthy of seeing.

By Goldie

Aspiring writer who has retired from the institution of education. I've written plays, three of which have been performed both in Rochester NY and here in Sarasota FL. I also write stand up and obviously, film critique. My comment section does not work, so please email me your comments at

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