This drama allows the French nation to confront the shameful chapter in 1942 when Parisian police rounded up 13,000 Jewish residents at the behest of the Gestapo. More than 4,000 Jewish children were hauled off because the French preferred to meet the quotas for the death camps rather than look after the orphans. Rose Bosch’s film is unashamedly pitched to a broad audience, for both good and ill. It’s convincing as a production, and contrasts the craven behaviour of the authorities with solo acts of compassion – notably from Mélanie Laurent’s noble Protestant nurse. Tracing the fortunes of Jewish families trapped in the nightmare, the cliché count is high and there’s a surfeit of tears and syrupy strings when the material was surely affecting enough already. That said, artistic considerations aren’t totally the point here. Its purpose is to say: We French did this. The message gets through.
Friday June 17 2011
Cast and crew