HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is a sweeping romantic drama set in 1930's England, Paris, and Spain. Gilda Bessé shares her Paris apartment with an Irish schoolteacher, Guy Malyon, and Mia, a refugee ... See full summary »
The first days of WWI. Adrien, a young and handsome lieutenant, is wounded by a piece of shrapnel. He will spend the entire wartime at the Val-de-Grâce Hospital, in Paris. Five long years, ... See full summary »
Berlin 1943/44 ("The Battle of Berlin"). Felice, an intelligent and courageous Jewish woman who lives under a false name, belongs to an underground organization. Lilly, a devoted mother of ... See full summary »
Israel, 1967. Sacha and Laura have been living in a kibbutz near the Syrian border for two years. They are visited by Simon, Michel and Paul, three friends from Paris who have come to celebrate Laura's twentieth birthday. Simon is obsessed by the death of the girl he loved and during the birthday evening, attempts to find someone to blame amongst his friends. Laura alone knows that the young girl... See full summary »
June 1940. German troops are advancing on Paris. Odile, a widowed teacher, succumbs to the widespread panic and, with her two children, joins the exodus from the city. Philippe is on the cusp of adolescence, Little Cathy knows only that they are going South. After fifty kilometres, a German plane attacks, decimating the helpless refugees. Odile and her children lose everything. A shaven-headed youth appears from nowhere and leads them away from the carnage. His name is Yvan, he's seventeen years old. Cut off from the rest of the world and living in confined quarters, Odile and Yvan find themselves confronted with their own desires. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
"Strayed" is the second French movie released in the U.S. recently in which fleeing urban refugees seek to outrun the German Army when the so-called "Phony War" turned very real in the spring of 1940. Where "Bon Voyage" combines a serio-comic homicide and some high-strutting portrayals of sundry officials, a movie star, hangers-on and their sycophants, as well as a conventional anti-Nazi plot, "Strayed" is director Andre Techine's finely honed and narrowly focused look at a family trying to survive.
Odile (Emmanuele Beart) lost her husband in the early days of the war (he died a hero-a must for any French WWII film). She and her two children, Philippe (Gregoire Leprise-Ringuet), thirteen, and Cathy (Clemence Meyer), about eight, abandoned their Paris home as German forces surged towards the city. Their car was destroyed by a marauding enemy plane and they narrowly escaped death. Trekking into the woods they're accompanied by a mysterious young man, still a teen, Yvan (Gaspard Ulliel), a fellow who seems to have considerable wilderness skills and whose very short hair was not in fashion among young French men at the time. A clue about his past. Yvan is not forthcoming about his pedigree or his recent activities.
Yvan breaks into a lovely house abandoned by its owners, classical music performers. Before letting the family in he insures that they will be there for a while by several acts of sabotage.
The story unfolds with relationships developing across age and gender lines, not without problems. Philippe befriends Yvan who can be haughty and dismissive of the younger boy, causing the latter pain. Cathy is a genuine, normal for her age pest, the kind who both exasperates and amuses. And the beautiful Odile finds it hard to resist being attracted to their mysterious benefactor who knows how to bring "home" if not the bacon, then the bunny.
Unlike "Bon Voyage" there are no anti-Nazi polemical messages here. Technine provides the basic facts: loss of a husband and father, dislocation that, perhaps, was unnecessary (although Odile does remark that she wouldn't collaborate with the invaders), a dark, almost scary at times benefactor springing up from nowhere. Adapting to rapid change in a lush and verdant countryside still largely unmarked by combat is the key.
Scenes are shot with mostly close-ups so that the characters' faces relay feelings. Very good cinematography.
Technine is a good storyteller and Beart is quietly effective in the very familiar role of "What's a mother to do?" She hasn't resolved the loss of her husband - she still grieves - but she also can't repress her femininity and sexuality. Odile is very believable as are her kids.
An impressive French film.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?