(directed by Cate Shortland, 2012)
****+ (out of 5)
* * *
> Wow! This stunning film is more ammunition for my argument that the world needs more female directors!
. LORE is a WWII story, seen through the eyes of a young teen forced to lead her younger siblings on a dangerous journey across post-war Germany to the imagined sanctuary of their Grand-mother’s house in what is now (unofficially) East Germany. Before Germany’s defeat, they enjoyed a privileged status as the wealthy family of fervent Nazi parents. Now, they are forced to trade precious family heirlooms for food. The adults cling doggedly to the failed illusion of the Third Reich, but though Lore herself has been taught to be an anti-Semite, she cannot get the horrible concentration camp photographs out of her head. They torment her, and her tentative alliance with a loner she takes to be a liberated Jewish POW forces her to confront the world of lies she has been raised in, but never once questioned
. Talented Aussie newcomer director Cate Shortland has clearly been watching the films of Terrence Malick. The images here are crisp and dreamlike, elegant and woozy. Languid shots of the natural world seduce us in the incongruous context of the unspeakable tragedies and atrocities of war, and it’s aftermath. The stunning photography is impeccably edited, and for a change, the hand-held camera works spectacularly well most of the time. Yeah, it’s a little shaky, but not so much as to be tiresome to the eye or annoying to the viewer. This choice, and the decision to use very little background score, make the whole thing feel so immediate and real, and not separated by years and history. What score there is works brilliantly to reset mood without manipulation, with gentle, pensive piano.
. The actress playing the titular heroine (Hannahlore, or “Lore” for short) is a stunner. Twenty year old Saskia Rosendahl is one of those actress of whom we say: “the camera loves her”. Her shaded, restrained, nuanced performance is written across her face in a clear international language of emotion. So much is asked of her, over the course of this stark but lyrical drama, but she delivers in every scene.
. It’s a story we haven’t seen much: the devastating effect of war on children and families. Why? Simple: the over-whelmingly male viewpoint promulgated by an overwhelmingly male profession. Men make movies from a male viewpoint- especially war films. It gets our testosterone going. We put ourselves in the place of the soldiers, not the civilians. Support female directors! See their movies! LORE is a great place to start.
(Or try German filmmaker Caroline Link’s wonderful 2001 film: NOWHERE IN AFRICA, for a parallel experience.)
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