An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
Middle aged Jakob Beer reflects on his life, this reflection which is all consuming. He is a Polish born and raised Jew. When he was an adolescent, his parents were shot dead and his sister Bella hauled away by the Nazis during World War II. Jakob witnessed these events from a hideout in their home. Running away, Jakob was found by Athos Roussos, a Greek national working on an archaeological project in Poland. Athos managed to smuggle Jakob out of Poland back to his native Greece. A few years later, Athos and Jakob moved to Canada where Athos began work as a teacher. Jakob has continual dreams about Bella, especially her piano playing but never knew Bella's ultimate fate. Jakob's reflections, especially the emotions stemming from his thoughts, lead to him becoming a writer of a successful book. His marriage to his first wife Alex, an outgoing and upbeat woman, fails because he can't get out of the somberness connected to his past at this time of his life. It isn't until he comes to ... Written by
It is clear that neither the professional critics nor the posters of comments here have read the actual book on which the film is based. But then no film could capture the complexity and beauty of Anne Michaels' stunning novel, in its mixture of scientific, poetic, and historical elements. The main outlines are there, except for the figure of Ben, who takes up the last third of the novel, as a tormented heir to the trauma of the Holocaust through his parents (here set up as next door neighbors). It may not have been possible to give Ben (and his wife, Naomi, almost more important in the plot) the space they deserved in the service of memory haunting not only the first but also the second generation,, but for one, like me, who loved the book, have taught it at university level numerous times, have had brilliant papers by students on it (and have written on it myself) the film was a real letdown. So I urge you to read the book for yourselves. Otherwise, the actors were fine (except for Naomi, who is miscast), thelandscapes are well done, although the dreamy schmaltz of the love affair with Michaela was overdone.
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