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Jewish tailor Albert (Abkarian) and his wife Lea (Breitman) are reestablishing their business in 1946 Paris. Albert hires six people, more than he needs to meet current slow season demand, and all but Jacqueline (Lubna Azabal) are Jews who somehow survived the occupation. Slowly, tentatively they get to know each other as they cut, stitch, press, and fit men's and women's clothes. But each has to reestablish his or her life and relationships among sometimes indifferent or hostile Parisians. Written by
"Almost Peaceful (Un monde presque paisible)" uniquely focuses on a slice of time hitherto unexplored in film.
It's set in Paris in 1946 as co-workers in a tailor shop just try to have normal lives. But they are only physically recovered.
They are each survivors in different ways, whether from the camps, hidden, accidentally escaped, or joined the Resistance, or, for the non-Jews, compromised with the occupiers. All are youthful (the most likely demographic to have survived), whether during the war they were children, teens, young adults, or had started families. They are just trying to pick up their pieces, re-learning the quotidian.
But the tiniest things bring back uncontrollable memories, as powerfully as Proust's madeleine to use a French cultural comparison.
Particularly noteworthy are the Jews' relationships with gentiles. Where in most movies somehow all Frenchmen were members of the Resistance, here they recognize their informers, or the apathetic stand-byers, those who had gladly taken over their apartments, etc. etc. And those who think that it doesn't matter anymore and accidentally stumble into more emotions than they bargained for.
Over the gradual unfolding of the film, each fully developed and emotionally damaged character very individually adapts to breathing more freely and assertively and we cheer each quiet, little step in their progress.
The movie serves as a beautiful illustration of why so many survivors' stories didn't come out for another 50 years.
While it is based on an autobiographical novel, a neighbor of mine who was a child in France in 1946 supported its realism.
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