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Lore - Film Review

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Teenage experience of life on the other side of Nazi Germany
Image courtesy of Transmission Films Website

It is 1945 and the war is coming to an end. Hitler is gone and survival becomes a chaotic reality for the German flock he has abandoned.

At fifteen Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) is the eldest daughter of Nazi parents where a privileged existence along with her devotion to the Fuehrer and the Fatherland are all she knows of life thus far.

When her mother deserts her children, she leaves the very naive and reluctant Lore alone with four siblings. When food runs out and the skills to obtain more are non-existent, Lore is forced to leave behind their false utopia. She drags her family on a crash course into occupied Germany, where all its impending lessons and truths await to meet her head on.

As life morphs more into the shadows of fear and darkness, it is soon apparent to Lore that she is not only on the wrong side, but everything she has ever known is a horrifying and gruesome lie. Her dread is further confirmed when she discovers a photo of her proud uniformed father displayed next to images of the dead he had a hand in murdering.

As she struggles with the atrocities of the holocaust and her family's involvement, Lore is tormented by the reality of not only her link to such evil but that it could now get her killed.

Enter Thomas (Kai Malina), an unofficial protector of the misplaced family and object of suspicious appeal to the inquisitive Lore. As she grapples with her inbred hatred for the Jewish youth she has no choice but to accept his help in order to reach her Grandmothers home alive.

Just like Somersaults Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington, the lead characters in Lore are hypnotic. From the minute Saskia Rosendahl appears in frame you're riveted by her every everything. With an ability to simultaneously represent innocence, strength and experience beyond her years Rosendahl's portrayal of Lore is almost paranormal. She convincingly tackles the complexity of a teenager in war time dealing with sudden abandonment, puberty, adolescent angst and motherhood. A colossal feat conquered by Rosendahl considering the intense and sensitive topic.

This is a fairly heavy time to take on and Lore does not ask us to put aside all that we know, think and believe about the graphic nature of Nazi Germany. Rather it's as if Cate Shortland crafts a coping mechanism for her audience, quietly and gently gliding the viewer through each intense, awkward and controversial moment with purposeful yet beautiful imagery and sound without compromising the meaning or effect of each scene.

She manages to create a visual encounter similar to childhood memories, where as an audience member you can relate to the actions and every day behaviours of her characters and the environment they are in. Even in such a well known and historically repulsive period the children play, behave and respond to others, to the moment and to their surrounds like children would. The persistent crying from the baby and the primal desires of Lore and Thomas makes it feel very real and I found myself thinking "what would I do" despite my own personal feelings about the subject matter.

As in Somersault, the landscape plays an important role and is a commanding and essential presence in understanding each separate situation and predicament Lore finds herself in. There is also this constant sense that nature is reclaiming and righting the wrongs done, as though its dominance is the true ruler in the end.The movement of the trees, leaves, grass and water, the dreamy breezes and unforgiving winds, the heat and subsequent sweat, the darkness of the night and all the vivid colours and shades of the light. All reflect the mood and emotion of the characters within the environment and help create believable cinematography that is universal to the human experience.

For a follow up film, Cate Shortland has certainly proven Somersault was no mere fluke. Lore will linger within your thoughts long after viewing.

Genre: Drama and War
Director: Cate Shortland
Screen Writers: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee
Actors: Saskia Rosendahl as Lore
Nele Trebs as Liesl
Kai-Peter Malina as Thomas
Running time: 109 min
Rated: MA 15
Language: German with English Subtitles

Stephanie Rae attended a media screening of Lore as a guest of Luna Leederville and WeekendNotes.
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Why? Because Cate Shortland Films are cool
When: September 20th 2012
Where: At an Indie Cinema near you
Your Comment
Good grief! Do we really need more movies about nazi germany? How about a movie about the Armenian Holocaust? Oh, that's right, they aren't whealthy or powerful enough to advocate...
by poppy (score: 1|22) 2212 days ago
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