Two Mothers

Movies

*** (Three stars)
This German doc follows the international quest of Riga, Latvia–born adoptee Holger Mischwitzky to find the baby mama who was, in fact, his mama. In 1942, wee Holger was adopted by German parents living and working in Latvia during World War II. Like any adopted child, he wonders, Who am I? Jew? Latvian? Gypsy? Or just another German? Since director Rosa von Praunheim’s semireenacted recaps and use of documentary footage aren’t terribly inspired, the dramatic burden rests on Mischwitzky's search and speculation. There’s much rifling through archives and some illuminating interviews with Latvian historians about the horrors of the Holocaust as it unfolded in the Baltic states. Information comes out in tantalizing drips: When Mischwitzky learns his birth mother’s name and the fact that he was born in a prison, it’s like the documentary equivalent of an action flick’s climactic chase scene. By nonfiction movie standards, it’s not mind-blowing stuff. What it does offer is a tender family-reconstruction tale with high emotional stakes and a tragic historical background.—David Cote, Theater editor

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.] 

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