Roger Hanin was born in 1925 in Algiers; his formative years are described in this film. Meyer Lévy at 12 is fiercely independent and sure of his identity as a Jew and a Communist. The life of the Jewish community in this French colony is described with much affection. Mme. Schwarzkopf and her carpets are almost the only unpleasant episode in the Lévy family's life. Poverty dogs their daily existence, a five-franc coin is hard to come by.
Hanin had an undistinguished career in the French film industry: he is mainly remembered for playing le Tigre (a sort of James Bond type) in two films by Chabrol. Soleil will not be remembered, but there is a compelling performance by Sophia Loren who never puts a foot wrong when she is playing the mother of a large brood. Philippe Noiret as the father is effective in a couple of scenes. Nicolas Olczyk plays young Meyer very well.
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