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Lore - Review

Lore

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING won widespread acclaim for her first film Somersault, Australian director Cate Shortland’s follow up looks set to garner even more.

Based on a story in Rachel Seiffert’s Booker-shortlisted novel The Dark Room, Lore is a haunting but eye-opening look at life in Germany in the immediate aftermath of World War II as seen through the eyes of the teenage daughter of two SS parents.

The film picks up as her parents are taken into custody, leaving Lore (played by newcomer Saskia Rosendahl) to try to fend for her four younger siblings and guide them safely on a 900km across Germany to join their grandmother in Hamburg.

In doing so, Lore experiences an awakening that puts her loyalty and faith in both her parents and Hitler to the test. Although indoctrinated into her parents’ views, the realities of war-ravaged Germany soon hit home and are even exacerbated by the arrival of a young Jewish survivor (Kai-Peter Malina’s Thomas) who offers them much needed assistance.

Shortland’s film is a thoughtful examination of the issues at play, serving as both a gripping survival thriller and a meditation on denial and responsibility.

It’s not an easy film to watch, both in the way that it contains some genuinely harrowing imagery as well as in how it depicts the corrosion of the innocence of youth, but it’s all the more admirable for the way in which it refuses to pull its punches. The ending, too, is particularly well realised and very effective.

At the centre of it all, meanwhile, is a towering performance from Rosendahl who displays a maturity beyond her years to brilliantly capture the vast range of emotions tearing through her.

Charged with carrying the emotional brunt of the film, she offers a complex yet sympathetic portrayal of someone forced to grow up fast and re-evaluate everything she once had faith in. It’s a performance nothing short of astonishing.

There’s notable support, too, from each of the young actors playing her siblings and Malina as Thomas.

Lore is challenging cinema that grips from start to finish.

In German, with subtitles

Certificate: 15
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: February 22, 2013