Page 2 of 2
Thomas’s motives for staying with them are complicated. He is sexually attracted to Lore, although, with great confusion and humiliation, she makes the first move. (And the last; he doesn’t reciprocate.) Also, the presence of the baby ensures for him a measure of sympathy and protection from would-be attackers. And is Thomas really Jewish or just pretending in order to secure sympathy from the Allies?
Using Thomas as a symbolic figure – a combination deus ex machina, dream lover, and manifestation of the Jewish people – is a bit much. He never entirely comes to life. And though it’s admirable that Lore, who is the picture of Aryan prettiness, does not devolve into a symbol as well, her lack of spiritual transcendence by the end leaves us with very little except hard-bitten realism in a story that cries out for something more.
But Saskia Rosendahl is a highly expressive actress within the limited confines of her character, and the film is studded with memorable scenes. A particularly ghastly showpiece involves the uncomprehending little twins singing a Hitler youth anthem to a marveling old lady. In another scene, fleeing German villagers look upon a photo of stacked bodies in a concentration camp and refuse to admit its veracity.
When Lore’s grandmother (Eva-Maria Hagen) lectures the children, telling them “your parents did nothing wrong,” we can see how long the road to recovery will be for this young generation, and how it will take more than time to heal these wounds. Grade: B (Unrated.)