Australian director Cate Shortland’s superb new film brings an acutely fresh eye to Rachel Seiffert’s post-World War II story of a spiky young German girl fleeing the Allied forces with her four younger siblings.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
Australian director Cate Shortland’s superb film brings an acutely fresh eye to a quintessential European story. Adapted from British writer Rachel Seiffert’s collection of post-WWII tales, The Dark Room, Lore takes us into the immediate aftermath of defeat for the children of a high-flying Nazi SS couple. Before their mother is arrested, she urges them to elude Allied custody and to find refuge with their grandmother in Hamburg. Equipped with survivalist stoicism and a headful of other, less helpful Nazi ideology, teenager Lore (mesmerising Saskia Rosendahl) takes charge of her siblings and sets out into the dark woods on the 900km journey.
As in her debut Somersault, Shortland puts the hyper-sensitivity of a young woman at the centre of her picture and works wonders with her cinematographer and editor to bring the protagonist’s world to life with sensual precision. This is a film of succinct darting impressions and heightened apprehensions, a Brothers Grimm fairy-tale getting-of-wisdom in which every moment feels urgent and real. “Lore sets off on a perilous journey across a vanquished nation, confronting death, deprivation and, inconveniently enough, the tumult of youthful desire…
Lore’s doubts and fears about their allegiances play out in her ambivalent relationship with the watchful young Jewish refugee (Kai Malina) she and her siblings connect with along the road. It’s a strange sort of coming-of-age, undertaken during one of history’s darkest periods by a girl with a dawning understanding of events who’s still too young to be guilty.” — Mark Adams, Hollywood Reporter