This is a very subtle and human story of one Jewish family in France during the Nazi occupation--set before, during and after the deportation and murder of approximately 90,000 men, women, and children- 26 per cent of the French Jewish population. The director, 66 year-old French Jewish veteran filmmaker, Claude Miller, lost most of his aunts, uncles and grandparents in the concentration camps. I think it is the subtlety, and refusal to make this a straightforward story of perpetrators, victims, and politics, that is actually the most disturbing or uncomfortable thing about the movie. After all, we still live in a world of Holocaust deniers and victim blamers. I am thus, extremely grateful to Mr. Miller for treading into these murky waters to create a story about real people with real human passions, ideals, opinions, politics, wounds, foibles, and humanity—rather than cardboard victims and villains. I learned a great deal about the individual human motivations behind decisions that sometimes went bad—but were actually quite intelligible. I felt like I was being shown a community of people in all it's diversity and humanity, rather than as a faceless homogeneous mass. If I really listen and take in what I am being shown, it is no longer possible to stand outside and say “Why didn't they just...? Or: “If I was in their situation, I would have....” NO—if you are really paying attention and being honest here, this movie gives the lie to this after-the-fact second-guessing. As you watch the movie, it may be good to remember who made it—he is giving us a real gift and taking some significant risks to do so. There are a lot of levels of “secrets” in this movie, and to say too much about the plot would be a disservice. The acting is top-notch and the multi-dimensional story kept me enthralled throughout. 10 thumbs up!
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