Fugitive Pieces

  • Film
  • Drama
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This adaptation of Anne Michaels’s 1996 poetic novel about survival, death, memory, inheritance and the role of art and learning is far more than honourable. Director Jeremy Podeswa’s Holocaust movie plays, pleasingly, more like a meditative mood piece than the usual literary memorial. In many ways, it is the film’s suffusion of genuine emotion and lack of histrionics which win a victory over the director’s conventional style – the warm but trite honey and mahogany tones of old remembered interiors, even the holiday-ad picaresque of the film’s more buoyant, Greece-set later stages.

In a film of multiple flashbacks and flash-forwards, Podeswa focuses more on the first of the novel’s two protagonists: Jakob is a man ‘living with ghosts’ since the rest of his family were rounded up by the Nazis, never to be seen again. He’s played by two actors: Robert Kay as the traumatised Polish-Jewish boy of the 1940s and Stephen Dillane as the abstracted adult Toronto writer from the ’60s to the ’80s. Both performances, man and boy, are highly internalised but still sympathetic and engaging. Both, too, are upstaged by the fine Serbian actor Rade Serbedzija, who is highly moving as the stoic archaeologist who saves the boy in Poland and takes him to safety in Greece and later Canada.

Podeswa is to be congratulated, too, for his restraint in the film’s (many) moments of pathos, as is composer Nikos Kypourgos for his nurturing, understated score, which helps make this ‘conversation with the past’ one of the most delicate, approachable and rewarding Holocaust movies of recent years.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday May 29 2009
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Cast: Stephen Dillane
Rade Serbedzija
Rosamund Pike
Ayelet Zurer
Robbie Kay
Nina Dobrev

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Jon Quirk

A fine interpretation of a compelling book; it demands engagement of the brain but amply rewards those who expect more from their film experiences. Do not miss it - it is quite possible you may find this to be one of the finest films you ever see - right up there with Pan's Labyrinth, a not dissimilar film in some ways.