France, 1942, during the occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is one of the French Resistance's chiefs. Given away by a traitor, he is interned in a camp. He manages to escape, ... See full summary »
As the Allies sweep across Germany, Lore leads her siblings on a journey that exposes them to the truth of their parents' beliefs. An encounter with a mysterious refugee forces Lore to rely on a person she has always been taught to hate.
In 1953, a sensitive French boy finds out from a neighbor that his family's Jewish. François Grimbert becomes a physician, and gradually peels the layers of his buried family history which resulted in his difficult upbringing, raised as Catholic by his "Aryan" appearing parents. His athletic father labored to stamp out stereotypical Jewish characteristics he perceived in his son, to keep the family's many secrets, as most relatives fought in World War II, and later were hauled off to labor and death camps by the Gestapo. Based on a true story. Written by
Claude Miller is one of the finest of modern French directors, and this film is one of his best. As many others have said before me, 'Un Secret' ('A Secret') verges on perfection in every way. The direction, the actors, the novel, the script, are all superb. The film is based upon a best-selling novel by Philippe Grimbert, which tells what is apparently a true story, of a revelation about what really happened in wartime, as experienced by a son who has never been told the truth. The story takes places at various times and has flashbacks and flash-forwards. The savage oppression of the Vichy Regime in France is here shown in all its fascist relentlessness: French policemen picking up French citizens to send them off to be gassed in Germany! Children too! And thereby hangs the tale: the 'imaginary brother' whom the lead character used to play with in his imagination when he was a child is someone he later discovers really existed, and really was his older brother so that it must have been a psychic impression. But the older brother was sent off to his death, with his mother, and a conspiracy of silence about the true events became a family tradition. The stately and athletic figure of the ironically named Cecile de France (ironical because she was born not in France but in Belgium) wafts through this film continually, and to call her redolent with vibrant beauty and possessor of a kind of 'ideal Aryan woman' quality would be an understatement. She positively exudes allure, in the way that some fruit trees drip sap. Ludivine Sagnier, who used to be a child actress, but has long since matured successfully, does an incredibly sensitive job of portraying the intangible hysteria and willfulness of a young Jewish woman who makes a false decision at a moment of crisis during the War, at a point when she has become irrationally defiant and slightly unhinged. This is a perfectly judged film, which must have meant a lot to the director (who wrote the script himself), and everyone involved seems to have contributed his or her best to bring this tragic tale to life in an unforgettable manner.
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