Raphael Georg Klopper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Re-tell this story with this historical subtext as its background is a work that only real competent hands would handle on with great respectful and creative ease. Thankfully, Christian Petzold ain’t recognized by quite a few as one of the best directors working today by no reason. His way of reconciling a historical subtext of past loss and trauma still haunting the present, along with the highly complex cinematic subtext in its drama about identity and love is impressively functional and powerful in its delivery force in great fashion!
Even if most of the structure of actions happen in a almost too imaginative world with a whole of coincidences happening left and right almost constantly, which may definitely be read as a delusional dream being taking physical form in the structure of the story that the movie sets of to tell; still, the main tragedy that the character carries within doesn’t lose any of the heavily cathartical weight that its remarkable and utterly compensating finale delivers.
It’s the Vertigo tale told in a post WW2 setting, yes, but taken to the lenses of hers optic of everything. Which leads onto a movie being about rediscovering a love that wasn’t never real or that was easily forgotten; a blind journey towards conquering back an image that someone bestowed upon us when image for her in the first place was never a main priority of originating the deepest feelings she still carried with herself.
Is a post-war drama of the likes of an old Roberto Rossellini/Ingrid Bergman film, packed with a classicist melodrama tone, but is also about its title, Phoenix, a tale of burning to deformity and rising from the ashes, is also a story about a never burned off love, but one that got betrayed and manipulated when fear and death of war dismantles all the left humanity alive in our individual memories. Powerful all around with the capital P all over it!