Film & TV

John Maguire: A fascinatingly awful leading man makes Afire magnetic viewing

Christian Petzold’s deceptively easygoing drama, set against the backdrop of a creeping forest fire, masterfully tackles the awkward peculiarities of human relationships

Self-obsessed young novelist Leon (Thomas Schubert) meets Nadja (Paula Beer) a seasonal worker selling ice-creams on the seafront, in Afire

Afire, directed by Christian Petzold; selected, no cert; 4 out of 5 stars

Early on in Afire, German writer and director Christian Petzold’s absorbing new drama, a splenetic, self-obsessed young novelist named Leon (Thomas Schubert) asks his best friend Felix (open-faced newcomer Langston Uibel) to explain the theme of the portfolio he’s putting together for an art school application. “Water,” the cheerful young photographer says, with characteristic enthusiasm. “Water isn’t a theme,” lumpy, grumpy Leon ...