out of Five
Running time: 109
Impressively directed and beautifully shot, Cate Shortland's follow-up to Somersault is a provocative and emotionally complex drama with a terrific central performance from newcomer Saskia Rosendahl.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Cate Shortland and based on a novel by Rachel Seiffert, Lore begins shortly after the fall of Hitler, with the Nazi parents (Ursina Lardi and Hans-Jochen Wagner) of 14 year old Hannalore (Saskia Rosendahl) frantically burning evidence before being arrested. Instructed to take her four younger siblings (Nele Trebs, Andre Frid, Mika Seidel and infant Nick Leander Holaschke) across the country to their grandmother's house, Hannalore (or Lore, for short) begins an arduous journey through war-ravaged Germany, where she's forced to confront the reality of her parents' beliefs, not least when they receive help from Thomas (Kai Malina), a young Jewish man.
Newcomer Saskia Rosendahl is terrific as Lore, delivering an assured performance that is heartbreaking to watch. Kai Malina is equally good as Thomas and there's strong support from Nele Trebs, Andre Frid and Mika Seidel as Lore's siblings; the scene where two of the children sing a Hitler Youth song in order to get help from an old woman is one of several powerful moments.
There are echoes of Shortland's debut feature Somersault in Lore's visual style, with frequent use of close-ups and strong emphasis on the natural landscape around the characters, giving the story the air of an extremely dark fairytale, complete with a grandmother's house and scary, predatory characters (in one particularly disturbing scene, a would-be rapist backs away from Lore in disgust, exclaiming, ‘Ugh!
Child, you stink of death!'). Needless to say, it's beautifully shot throughout, courtesy of Adam Arkapaw's stunning, naturalistic cinematography.
Shortland and co-writer Robin Mukherjee's script is excellent, portraying an intriguing viewpoint not often seen in WWII movies and making strong, but subtle comments about both brainwashing and parenting along the way. To that end, the story doesn't go where you expect (let's just say don't expect a Hollywood remake anytime soon), which is deeply unsettling and ultimately powerfully moving.
Lore is a superbly made and beautifully shot WWII drama and coming-of-age story that's by turns disturbing, provocative and deeply moving. Recommended.