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Philippe de Broca
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A single mother raises her son in impossible circumstances first in Leningrad, then Krakow and then France and is over-ambitious about him but never gives in.
This is a delicate film on a delicate story, all true, the story of the author Romain Gary and his mother, a very determined but hopelessly impractical woman, who by her imagination tricks herself and her son through impossible difficulties in Leningrad, Poland and France from after the revolution to the second world war. It's one of the most famous mother portraits in the history of literature, and the film renders it justice on the whole. Jules Dassin was himself from a Russian Jewish family, he knew this background and environment by heart, and Melina Mercouri is perfect as the total mother. Jules Dassin plays himself the silent screen star and director in Leningrad and succeeds in having fun in quite a few comedy scenes. Some scenes are simply overwhelming in their human candor and beauty and are very appropriate illustrations of the book. Romain Gary himself would have been pleased with this film - it would be interesting to know if he said anything about it.
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