Sunday, 25 August 2013

Lore (2012) - ★★★★★

Director: Cate Shortland
Writers: Cate Shortland, Robin Mukherjee (Screenplay), Rachel Seiffert (Novel)
Stars: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai-Peter Malina, Nele Trebs, Andre Frid, Mika Seidel, Ursina Ladi, Hans-Jochen Wagner

There's something about Lore that will stick in my mind forever. It's haunting, poignant, powerful, realistic, and very touching. I was in a sort of trans whilst watching this film. I felt so submersed into the story and the environment, it was like I was on the journey with the characters. The performances are flawless, the music is haunting and beautiful, the story maintains intrigue and urgency, and the cinematography reminded me of the always stunning films by Terrence Malick. I'm not sure what else to say, except that so far it is my favourite foreign language film of 2012.

When Germany fell in WWII, many who had anything to do with the Nazi regime were imprisoned. Lore (Saskia Rosendhal) is forced to look after her young brothers and sister when her parents are both arrested. It follows her struggle to keep herself and her siblings alive as they journey across the war-torn, devastated country towards their Grandma's place. Along the way, they meet a young Jewish man who survived the torture of living in a concentration camp. Although they were all a part of the Hitler Youth, he may just be their only hope for survival.

Saskia Rosendahl gave a performance I'll never forget.
It's movies like Lore that make the world of cinema so damn important. I love it when a film sheds light on a new perspective that others may not have even considered. Lore and her siblings are the innocent ones in all this chaos, yet they have to fight for their lives because of the conflict that the previous generation had caused. It also goes to show how ingrained prejudices become less of a factor when life or death situations arise. The running time of 109 minutes just flies by... it feels almost short for a film that tells such a gripping story. Yet, I wouldn't change a thing about the ending. It leaves the audience to discuss what happened, and more importantly, what is going to happen with Lore. 

I feel that Saskia Rosendahl gave one of the most underrated performances of 2012. We don't see extreme emotional outbursts from her too often (which is what Hollywood looks for when awarding performances), but we see such realism in her mannerisms and facial expressions. It's subtle, but entirely believable. She was half the reason I was so sucked into the story.

The supporting performances matched Rosendahl's. They couldn't have cast this film better in my opinion. The relationship between Lore and the young Jewish man, Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), is one most interesting relationships I've ever seen. They hardly talk to each other, considering both have a strong reason to hate one another. Yet, in the scheme of things, survival and trust is what becomes important when it's a dog-eat-dog world. There's never a clear moment where we see them fall in love, or even stop disliking each other... their familiarity and the urgency of their situation keeps them together.

What separates Lore from most 'war' and 'human interest' films is its storytelling. There's real magic to the cinematography. Germany, a war-torn country with dead bodies laying over the landscape, still manages to have real beauty. We see Lore and her family traverse through all of these breathtaking landscapes, yet they can't appreciate or enjoy the beauty of it all. They have to keep moving and always look ahead and not behind. One may find it hard to look past the seriousness of the story, but I found real poetry in seeing a still beautiful Germany full of people who have lost all of the beauty from their lives. All of these incredible scenes are accompanied by one of the most haunting scores I've ever heard, composed by Max Richter. 

When I first finished the film, believe it or not, I was going to give it four stars. Then I started discussing it with my sister, and realised that there's so much more to the characters than one would think. It moved to four and a half stars. After re-listening to the masterful score by Max Richter, and pondering the whole film, I was nearly moved to tears. I haven't stopped thinking about Lore since I saw it yesterday. It's stuck in my heart, and I'll never forget it. Although we don't see brutal scenes of battle, or a comprehensive look at German history, I'd call it one of the most effective war stories ever told. I treasure this film, and I believe it's one of the greatest Australian films ever made.

Just give the score a listen... it is one of those rare scores that fits the story perfectly. It tells a story in itself.

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