Director: Cate Shortland Writers: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee (screenplay), Rachel Seiffert (novel) Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, Ursina Lardi Runtime: 109 min Rating: NR
A new perspective on an event often forces an audience to confront disturbing realities they may wish to avoid. Although Lore relates a story from the second world war, it reveals the point of view of those we do not often consider: children of a high-ranking Nazi official. This story may not be pleasant, but it is certainly fascinating.
After the German defeat at the end of World War Two, Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) and her four younger siblings are abandoned as their Nazi-supporting parents are forced to flee the Allied forces. As they travel on foot to their grandmother’s house in Hamburg, the children encounter a young Jewish refugee, Thomas, on whom they are forced to rely for both food and safe passage through Ally-occupied lands. As she is exposed to the lies of their parents and begins to befriend one whom she has been taught to hate, Lore is forced to come to terms with a belief system that is quickly unraveling.
Newcomer Rosendahl has a lot resting on her young shoulders as the leader of both her family and the film itself. She must demonstrate strength yet elicit sympathy, a daunting task as her racist upbringing appears often. When Lore violently rejects Thomas because he is Jewish, the audience may feel shock or even anger. The use of the children’s point of view, however, reminds the audience of their faultlessness, as it is clear that they are kind and loving individuals who have been indoctrinated into their beliefs. We see events through the eyes of the children; the camera focuses on that which would draw their eyes, such as the guns held by the Ally soldiers they encounter, or the faces of the Nazi guards as they search for their father in horrifying pictures of concentration camps. This perspective also exposes the audience to various atrocities committed by the Allies themselves; these acts are all the more horrifying when we realize that it was “us”, and not “the enemy”, that performed them.
Lore contains scenes of both beauty and pain, but its focus is primarily the latter. Director Cate Shortland uses muted colours, uncomfortable close-ups, moments of slow motion, and eerie music to create a sense of almost perpetual unease that makes the film rather difficult to watch. Every scene is filled with intensity and, appropriately, discomfort. This movie leaves one haunted, but not fulfilled, similar to the way Lore becomes weaker as opposed to stronger as the film progresses. We assume the disintegration of her beliefs to be necessary, but are left wondering if the hollow shell that she becomes is really preferable. Perhaps this lingering feeling of emptiness is necessary to wholly convey the disturbing story the film wishes to tell with its alternative perspective; however, I was still left longing for some moment of redemption.