Second world war has always offered a lot for movie makers, especially for European movie makers. The mass killings of the Jews by the Nazi's has been told umpteen times that we seem to have a new story at least once in a decade. This one is again based on true events and the script depends a lot on the memoirs of one woman who survived this particular pages from French history. The script features many real life people.
German occupied France. As per agreement with Germans, French police make a massive arrest of all Jewish people who had come into Paris, before the German occupation, about 24000 of them on the 16 of July 1942. They didnt manage the agreed number as many French people hid and helped the Jews. Those arrested, together with the children, are transferred to different camps.
This movie is special, because the script uses a lot of time to see the happenings through children. The script concentrates on one particular family, but there are also other families involved. The efforts of French to save their neighbours and the problems in the camps, including an initial stay in a Parisian Velodrome, are all picturised here. During all this parts, children occupy a big presence and all the sadness, anger and disappointment we feel for these innocent people, are felt through their children.
One of the most brilliant aspect is the recreation of the Velodrome. That was quite stunning and stood out for me. The innocence of some of the children was very touching too.
Jean Reno, as a Jewish doctor, Melanie Laurent as Ms. Monod, a red cross worker whose memoirs were so important for this script and Gad Elmaleh, as the young father of a few kids, together with the many children performed very well.
But I do felt that, this movie could have been more touching. There is some brilliance lacking in many moments, which could have made it even more heartening. In spite of all efforts by the team, I still thought, may be they did not put their 200% into it. If not, this could have been a movie as deeply touching as Life is Beautiful. Instead it ends up as just a nice movie.
World has seen enough of the sufferings of Jews, I think. I am wondering, when will Europe make movies which will show the sufferings of the Palestinians and those countries around Israel?