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Fugitive Pieces

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
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.
Written by Wally Hammond

Release Details

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

Cast and crew

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