Set in the dying days of the Second World War, Lore and her brothers and sister are on the run in order to get to their distant relatives who live over 900 miles away. Australian director Cate Shortland not only creates a devastating story from the eyes of the young German family, but a film that can be considered as a masterpiece of art and poetry.
As the Führer’s reign is coming to an end, Lore’s father (a Nazi) burns and destroys all evidence that might lead them to suspicion and takes his family to a small cabin in the forest, shortly after the mother and father are both imprisoned by the Americans, leaving Lore to look after her younger siblings and to journey a dangerous path to where they can be safe. The film focuses on the significance of family and relationships; it centres on the innocence of children and the role of responsibility. Saskia Rosendahl perfectly portrays Lore’s character as protective and suspicious; as a Jew approaches them to help she is the one (as a result of propaganda) who believes he is filthy and a person who no one can trust, however (without revealing the plot) Lore’s relationship with Thomas (the Jew) is questionable and confusing, as in any relationship there is a struggle between the two. Unlike other typical romantic films such as The Notebook and Atonement, their relationship is a story of its own, you begin to feel and understand them and the struggles of the two. I personally found myself disappointed by the ending as I became so attached to them both; I wanted the film to become a fairytale. Even though I was disappointed by this, it was kept realistic; making you feel like this could have actually been a true story.
Putting this aside, the one thing that makes this film stand out amongst others today is the visual and poetic style of the film. The jerky and shaky handheld camera creates a realistic, distorted feeling along with the odd use of focus on the protagonist, or should I say the lack of focus. Cate Shortland has decided to focus on different aspects of the shot leaving the protagonist out of focus to portray the character as distant and isolated to reinforce the emotions of the characters. The overflowing drama conjured with poetic images of sun peeking through the forest trees, breezy curtains and long shadows all create a fairytale landscape and feeling which reinforces the incorruptibility of the children and is a nice and relieving contrast to the actual events that are occurring at the time. The only times the camera seems somewhat static is when the children come across something dreadful that not only stuns them but stuns us as an audience.
Lore is a harsh yet innocent film, full of brutality, grotesque images, but it’s also poetic and indulges on images that relieve an audience. The journey of the 5 children and the stranger becomes a magical one, one full of romance, purity, worry and escapism. Lore’s story is one that isn’t easy to forget, it doesn’t dwell on mistakes or the harsh reality of the Germans at the end of the Second World War, it deals with it and moves on, even though you may not like how realistic some parts are, you seem to admire how realistic it is. Even though it focuses on a perspective that some might find hard to comprehend, somehow you find a way to forgive and to understand. There are many twists and turns within the film and it is definitely worth seeing.
Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, Megan Al-Ghailani (February ’13)