Lore (review)

Lore green light Saskia Rosendahl Nele Trebs Mika Seidel Andre Frid

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go. Except this ain’t no fairy tale… unless it is, perhaps, a hint of the beginnings of a new mythology of darkness and light, of scary childhood and even scarier adolescence giving way to a resigned, grieving adulthood. Lore (newcomer Saskia Rosendahl, who reminds me a young Connie Nielsen), perhaps 14 or 15 years old, is abandoned with her four younger siblings, one still a babe in arms, by their parents; yes, in the deep dark woods. It’s for the children’s safety, since Mom (Ursina Lardi) and Dad (Hans-Jochen Wagner) — he’s a Nazi officer; it’s hinted that she may be some sort of Mengele-esque doctor or scientist — must turn themselves in to the occupying American forces, now that the Fuhrer is dead. Mom says she’s coming back, but Lore knows better, and when one of her mischievous little brothers steals from the only neighbor of their remote hideaway, Lore is left with no choice but to scoop up the kids and head out across field and dale for Oma’s house in distant Hamburg. The journey is beset with dangers, including a young man (Kai Malina) who says he only wants to help them. But he’s an untrustworthy Jew, and also threateningly handsome and alluring… Could be the real “monster” here is Lore herself, learning how to overcome the propaganda she’s been fed her whole life at the same time the last of her girlish innocence is being stripped away, not just in matters sexual but in finding the will and the guile she needs to ensure the survival of her family. Screenwriter (with Robin Mukherjee) and director Cate Shortland, working from the novel The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.], has crafted a film of eerie sadness and mystery, a coming-of-age that echoes with horrors both archetypal and all too freshly authentic, melding them into something unforgettable.

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