This is a very moving adaptation of the best-seller by Tatiana De Rosnay. It has the tough task of covering four generations, and is able to pull it off.
When The World According to Garp came to film, they dropped the four generations so it would be less confusing (and not four hours).
This is easily the most moving movie you’ll see all year.
Kristin Scott Thomas plays an American journalist living with her French husband and daughter. She talks her editor into letting her do a story on the French Jews that were rounded up in World War II and stumbles across a stunningly haunting story.
Some might find it a little contrived and not buy into the coincidences. I was chilled by the skeletons that she uncovers in these various closets, and moved by the acts of violence (and kindness) of a few during the war.
Sarah is played by an amazing child actor named Melusine Mayance. She is separated from her family, and is determined to make it home to her apartment to let her little brother out of the closet she locked him in as the family was rounded up.
Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner also co-wrote the screenplay, and De Rosnay has already expressed his satisfaction with the story they produced.
The parallel stories – modern day with the journalist and wartime with Sarah – are interwoven nicely, and in an understated way that worked. It was a tad uneven a few times and there were a few scenes I didn’t like. One involved somebody walking away from the table after hearing something he didn’t like. It didn’t ring true for me. Another had young staff members on the magazine debating how they’d handle the situation if they were around in 1942.
It was refreshing to see a film with a married couple having some problems in a way that wasn’t over the top and seemed realistic. They sounded like adults as they discussed the things that bothered them. When the husband felt his wife was getting too obsessed with the stories she was involved in, there’s no screaming or glasses breaking. And when the wife is annoyed that he’s constantly into his work, she politely asks him to put his cell phone away at the restaurant. When he pulls it out in the car, she threatens to take a cab. No hokey scene of her grabbing the phone and chucking it out the window.
Those are the only scenes I want to discuss, as so much of this is powerful if you get to watch it unfold without knowing what to expect. That being said, it’s still rather predictable, but powerful still.
Aidan Quinn is the only other cast member I recognized, and he’s great in the second half of the film.
A story came out recently that listed The Champ as the saddest movie of all-time. This was after a study with thousands of people that had them wired up to machines and monitored their brains. I’m guessing watching children and families during the Holocaust is always a tear jerking experience, but I can’t remember being this happy and sad during a film in a long time.
You’ll be hearing more about this when Oscar nominations are announced.