9 July 2003 | SFMovieFan
A poignant lesson in love and devotion
It has been years since I saw this film at the San Francisco Foreign Film Festival. It really leaves an impression; I highly recommend it. The plot spans years before and during the Holocaust. Through the eyes of his young nephew, we watch the plight of an initially successful Jewish doctor ("Uncle Ernst") living in Germany. While Ernst's plight is central to the story, it is mostly Martha, his housekeeper-become-wife, who draws you in--at least that's the impression I have after all these years. After the film, the face of this kindly, well-meaning woman haunted me for some time, and I can even picture it now: radiating joy during the warmer moments of the film, and piercing the viewer's own heart with sorrow at other moments.
Many films that take place during the Holocaust are somewhat predictable. That said, this one is rich and unique enough in plot that it stands out in my memory, but mostly thanks to the acting and poignancy of the story. I think the film's biggest strength is the attachment you form to Martha, an extremely sympathetic character whose devotion to her husband is so sincere, so touching, that it seems to erase all barriers for the human heart.