Hidden Life, A

Director: Terrence Malick
Year Released: 2019
Rating: 3.0

The Nazi Party recruits Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), an Austrian farmer, to fight for them in World War II, but he refuses, is imprisoned and executed ... back home, his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) is shunned by the other members of their village because of her husband's "cowardice."  It's exactly what you'd expect from Malick, known for his long, meditative movies - delicate voice-over, handheld cameras at waist-level (and tilted up) swooping into a scene, jump cuts, gorgeous natural cinematography - except this time, unlike Knight of Cups and Song to Song, he has an actual narrative going (which he does seem to need to keep him focused).  My lingering question, however (and I do like the movie) is this: for having done graduate work at Oxford in Philosophy, his movies always seem far more emotional than analytical, and the jumping back and forth between idyllic rural life and the harsh reality of war is a bit too ... well, black and white (whenever the movie needs some gruffness, it brings out the Bully Boys to pummel Franz or spit on Fani).  It's still captivating despite its length, and Catholic scholars (Jägerstätter was beatified by Pope Benedict in 2007) should be impressed with its sincerity.  The saddest line (among so many): "What do I write?"