12 March 2008 | Felix-28
One of the best
Well, I'm very definitely with those who praise this film. I think it's quite excellent.
It has many qualities that I value. To begin with, the narrative is entirely believable. I particularly liked the fact that one of the principal characters was a Jew who didn't didn't care much about being a Jew and felt no need to proclaim his Jewishness to the world: there are many Jews like that and they are as entitled to respect as a non-practising Christian or Muslim or anyone else. The knowledge of the son that he's a disappointment to his father rang true. The acceptance by some Jews of the Nazi laws, and the belief of those same Jews that if they obey the laws, wear the star, stay away from public swimming pools, then they will be all right. The desire of those who live through the holocaust to put it behind them rather than dwell on it.
I like its directness and understatement. There are no histrionics. The story is told; the audience observes and draws its own conclusions.
The acting and directing are uniformly outstanding. I'd never had much time for Cécile de France, but she is perfect in this rôle. Patrick Bruel as the athletic father is just as good, and Julie Dépardieu as the family friend and the three actors who play the son at different times of his life are up there too; in fact, it's unfair to leave anyone out.
The director Claude Miller deserves special mention. I haven't seen any of his other films, but I'll look out for him from now on. He handles the film with absolute confidence, never obtruding, but conveying every nuance without faltering. This is a classic example of how simplicity, directness and lack of elaboration can add to the power of a story.
This film deserves much more than it's current user rating of 6.7.