Max Baumstein is a reputable businessman, a rich self-made man with a conscience - he founded a highly visible and active international organization fighting against violations of human ... See full summary »
Max Baumstein is a reputable businessman, a rich self-made man with a conscience - he founded a highly visible and active international organization fighting against violations of human rights. Why would he commit an act that apparently negates the principles he has striven for so long to uphold? Eventually, he reveals a secret about himself that he kept hidden from his younger wife Lina, and that in a roundabout way concerns her as well. It is the conclusion of a struggle that started many decades earlier, when Elsa Wiener, a German singer exiled in Paris, without money or relations, a refugee among many others, faced two daunting problems: surviving in a foreign city, and saving her husband Michel from the clutches of the Nazis. Written by
Eduardo Casais <email@example.com>
The shooting was postponed because 'Romy Schneider' broke her leg. It began in May 1981, but was interrupted some weeks later. Schneider had a kidney operation and her son David died in July. The remaining scenes were shot from October to December. See more »
Having watched a lot of movies, viewers get better at evaluating their strong and weak points, they can notice the flaws and strengths more easily. And if movie buffs watch LA PASSANTE DU SANS SOUCI, their reactions are usually diverse. It does not occur to be a great production nor a wonderful film that one could watch all over again. LA PASSANTE DU SANS SOUCI is rather an average work. Yet, after viewing the film, the majority occur to remember it. Why?
Its content is pretty clichéd, the action is far from good, the colors appear to be clearly long in the teeth. A story of a Jewish family escaping the cruel Nazis is rather a widespread theme nowadays, some people would say... This goes in pairs with weak character development since the film is based on flashbacks, the gist being the events of yore that find the light of truth at present in the court. Murder, suspicion, fear, war hardship, prejudice: these are the themes of the movie. The script is also not very clever except for some minor moments. Of course, we get the insight into the psyche of the main character, a Jew Max Baumstein (Michel Piccoli), his childhood, youth and adulthood; yet, it is all around the things that we all know pretty well. Nevertheless, the movie can boast two aspects that are so powerful that lead us all to pardoning possible flaws.
The first strongest point of the movie is the acting from two people, the famous pair of fabulous artists: Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli. Romy Schneider, in her last movie, plays two roles, two women that appear in Max Baumstein's life: Elsa Wiene, a symbol of motherly love and Lina Baumstein, a symbol of female love. It appears that her two roles are integral, create as if the main character's dream, memory combined with reality and upright thoughts. She is the female of Max's world existing in his inner and outer world. But the most important fact to mention about Romy is not so much her "double acting" but the way she executes it.
After the first viewing of the movie, I became breathless for a while and asked the person who was watching the film with me: is it possible that this is all acted? Is it possible to achieve such a marvelous insight into art of portrayal? No, these roles are biographical. In the famous scene when Max plays the violin at the Christmas party, Romy looks at him and genuine tears fall on her cheeks. Max reminds her of her beloved son David whom she tragically lost in July 1981. In another powerful moment when she says "It's all over" referring to her husband Michel, she desperately looks for relief in drinking. That's what the actress did in the last years of her life. She not only shouts in despair "I want my Michel" but also "I want my David!" Yet, the destiny occurs indifferent to cry. Besides, you cannot skip the nostalgic scene at the railroad station... Romy Schneider does something absolutely unforgettable, a thrill that goes through your back, something you cannot resist. Therefore, LA PASSANTE DU SANS SOUCI, being Romy's last film, is, undeniably, one of the most "Romy Schneider films."
The male star of the movie, Michel Piccoli, is also very convincing in the role of Max. He kills the eminent figure but gives a logically heartfelt justification for his deed: "I wish no one would have to live so difficult a life I had in my youth due to Nazis and the hell they had given to us." Mr Piccoli had appeared in films with Romy before, but I admit that this is the best of his roles. Piccoli appears to be genuine, very memorable and clever enough to manage difficult scenes that create dense atmosphere. Yet, no one can say, in spite of the fact that he plays the main role, that it is so much the Michel Piccoli movie as the Romy Schneider one.
The second strong point of LA PASSANTE DU SANS SOUCI is the exceptional sentiment. Due to specific music, dense atmosphere, nostalgia created mostly by Ms Schneider, you as a viewer are, unwillingly even, led into the world of this film, into the tragedies of people that suffered, into the endless walk towards happiness. You, together with the characters, have a feeling, more to say, a desire to create something better in the world. You suddenly realize that there is something missing around us: shortage of empathy, perhaps. It all raises questions and reflections about such critical truths like justice, dignity of life, social relations, etc. Young Max playing the violin seems to symbolize this quest for a better world, lost world that we have to recapture. And that is the strongest power of the film because if it hadn't been for the heartfelt message and reflections, what sense would that all carry?
I agree that the Nazis are showed in a very stereotypical way: just a group of bandits who want to raise the terror on the streets and who are only good at beating the Jews whom they meet by chance. However, what could be the view of these people created in the mind of a small boy who lived in fear. I personally think that those scenes showing Max hiding himself under tables and trembling with fear draw our attention to one of the key aspects of war: who really suffers are the innocent children.
All in all, there would be, of course, much to criticize about the film. It's a flawed movie, certainly. Yet, it has the fabulous roles/role of Romy Schneider and the truly unforgettable mood. The message is all right too. It makes us realize that both the characters and we all are constantly the endless walkers towards happiness. Therefore I rate it 7/10
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