Fugitive Pieces (2007) Poster

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To live with ghosts requires solitude
Howard Schumann5 May 2008
This week Jews and others around the world celebrated Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed every year since 1959 to "never forget" the murder of six million Jews during World War II. Loosely based on a novel of the same name by Canadian author Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces by Jeremy Podeswa whose father was a Holocaust survivor, touches on an often-overlooked aspect of the tragedy, that those who have managed to survive deep trauma may be unable to rid themselves of their obsessions. The film spans a period of roughly 35 years, beginning in 1942 and concluding in the late 1970, going back and forth in time between the events of childhood and present time. Set in Biskupin, Poland during World War II, seven-year old Jakob Beer (Robbie Kay) witnesses the murder of his parents and the abduction of his beloved sister Bella by German soldiers.

Disregarding Bella's instructions to remain at home, Jakob runs away. Hiding in the forest, he plants himself into the ground "like a turnip", hiding his face with leaves until he is discovered by Athos Roussos (Rade Serbedzija), a warm hearted Zorba-like Greek archaeologist on a dig. Athos brings the traumatized boy to his home on the sun-drenched island of Zakynthos in Greece where they live through the Nazi occupation, suffering deprivation but surviving the atrocities that befall Greece's Jewish community. The relationship between Jakob and Athos is slow to develop but they eventually form a bond. "I will be your koumbaros, your godfather," Athos says. "We must carry each other. If we don't have this, what are we?" After the war, Athos receives a teaching position in Canada and they move there hoping to forget the past. Jakob, now played as an adult by Stephen Dillane, has neighbors who are also Jewish immigrants and he develops a close relationship with Ben (Ed Stoppard) who he watches grow into a gifted writer. Though Jakob has become a successful writer in Canada himself, his marriage to the lovely Alex (Rosamund Pike) is threatened by haunting memories of Bella and his obsession with the Holocaust. Her vivacity and joy for life is in sharp contrast to his solemnity and he "longs for the loss of memory", and writes about his wife's "shameless vitality" saying, "To live with ghosts requires solitude".

After their breakup, Jakob falls in love with Micheala (Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer), a scholar twenty-five years his junior, and her charm and intelligence allows him to venture out of his shell. Fugitive Pieces is a quiet and sensitive film that has a touching poetic quality and Robbie Kay turns in one of the best child performances I have seen in years. Though the film often becomes too literary and does not soar dramatically, its message is strong - that though we should never forget a tragedy, there may be a steep price for remembering.
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Go see this movie
srlevinson3 February 2008
Moving, beautifully crafted, unbelievable performances, direct, poetic, raw. I was so moved by this film, I find it hard to compose complete sentences to describe it. This movie touched and inspired every cell in my body. The acting by the entire cast was precise and authentic. How were they able to compile this cast? How did they manage to extract these performances? The writing is intelligent, sensitive, moving and direct. This is a rare script. Each scene in this movie required such an investment by the entire film crew to reach its rare authenticity. The courage it would take to produce this film escapes me. While the result deserves the highest awards, this is not a film that was made for the sake of popularity. This film feels like a labor of love and the result of the truest of intentions. My hat is off to anyone who participated in this film.
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beautiful well crafted movie about a Jewish boy who survived the Holocaust and thrived through the love of a stranger
technolog4 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a beautiful well crafted movie. I was struck by how the movie doesn't fill in the blanks for you, but gives you a chance to imagine what the characters are feeling and thinking. The cinematography is exquisite, contrasting the light of the scenes in Greece with the darkness of the scenes where the young Jakob is escaping from the Nazis. One quote from the movie is that "it is not extraordinary that wood can burn, but that it can float". You don't have to be a descendant of a Holocaust victim to appreciate the very strong message delivered by the movie, that you can either be consumed with the fire of your past life's horrors or allow yourself to float and survive and thrive.

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A very moving account of the troubles of war
Lester May29 May 2009
I won a pair of tickets to this film, not knowing much about it - what a lucky win it turned out to be.

War is a terrible thing and often tortures the remaining years for its survivors. For a child, of course, war's awful memories impact without the luxury of maturity and this story is but one among millions. But the story is told well and says something good about the human condition.

The film is beautifully shot and the locations are a treat for the eyes. The actors are each plausible in their roles and perform well. The story is very moving - take some tissues! Perhaps a little slow moving for some and perhaps a touch too long, it is nevertheless a very good film.
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One of the best pictures we have ever seen....
hyg112 July 2008
We had no idea in advance of this movie...but we were overwhelmed totally. To us, it is an Academy Award Nominee to say the least. Rarely does a picture such as this, is able to move anyone emotionally as well as creating love and inspiration about the human soul. We will not go into the contents of the film...but if you do not see it, you would be missing something in your life. It's that good. I do not understand why it has not been shown in larger movie venues. We saw this in a small theater, similar to an art film setting. Go run ..give yourself a lift in life experience and see this film. We can't wait till it's on a DVD so we can buy it and enjoy it again.
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Powerful film
vendu-maison16 October 2010
Wonderful film not be missed. All the characters are very well developed, and portrayed with sensitivity. People with a troubled past will identify with the protagonists soul searching journey, especially if you have been affected by the holocaust. The musical score just serves to tighten that chocking feeling as the viewer attempts to suppress tears. The cinematography is masterful in capturing some of the most beautiful sea side scenes available in Mediterranean Europe (Greece).

The writer protagonist (Stephen Dillane) is well experienced playing introspective roles, as he also played the husband of Virginia Wolf (Nicole Kidman) in "The Hours."
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original ending
dmroberts10005 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly, absolutely loved the film, just felt I had to respond to the numerous comments regarding the alternative ending. Having researched it(could not find info on the original ending on IMDb -nor had I read the book) I felt that leaving us (the audience) with Jacob finding solace after such a traumatic experience, finally being able to love, fathering a child, finally being able to lay his sister to "rest" left me feeling some happiness after what was, generally, a very sad film, a better way to end than (as the original suggested) Jacob lying dead after a car accident. A moving tale, brilliantly acted & directed, and all the better for the (much needed) alternative ending.
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Very Moving
Mike B29 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A very moving and thoughtful film and it does so on a very personal level by examining the experience of a young boy. The film flips back and forth from his war experience to his after-war life in Canada.

It deals well with the trauma brought on by war – in this case the Holocaust. This young boy lost his parents and sister to the Nazis. He is forever tormented of what became of his sister who he last saw being forcefully dragged away by the German tormentors. It does make one wonder at the brutality of a people who kill needlessly and never imagine the lifelong suffering that they cause. This is the strength of this movie. This evil is countered by the generosity of his Greek mentor who became his life-long adopted father.

As mentioned the film shifts back and forth between the war years and his time in Canada. The periods when he was a young boy are the most engaging parts of the movie. There are times during the Canadian sequences where the film becomes somewhat mundane. The time spent with his first girl-friend is so superficial (the actress is simply eye-candy) that the movie almost loses course and becomes banal.

Also some of the sequences when he returns to Greece are almost an advertisement for a beautiful vacation. The settings are so luxurious that they start to detract from the main message of the movie.

Also at times the film becomes a little too 'wordy' – there are too many quotations from passages of a book.

Nevertheless this is overall a powerful movie.
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gentle telling of a haunted life
SnoopyStyle6 July 2016
Jakob Beer (Stephen Dillane) and Alex (Rosamund Pike) seem to be a happy Toronto couple but Alex finds his journal where he fears losing his identity to Alex. He is haunted by his past and they split up. His Polish family was destroyed by the Nazis and his sister Bella (Nina Dobrev) was taken by them. Jakob (Robbie Kay) was rescued by Greek archaeologist Athos Roussos (Rade Šerbedžija). In Greece, they fear the occupying Nazis and escape to Canada. In Toronto, they befriend their Jewish neighbors who escaped from Warsaw.

This is a gentle telling of a horrifying tale. The adult Jakob is fine but it is the chemistry between Rade and the younger Jakob that is so touching. Rade is so powerful and the kid is so fragile. The movie does miss Rade when he's gone. However, it doesn't mean Jakob's later relationship isn't just as compelling. There is a dreamy, gentle tone throughout.
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Well Done
dtbaker229 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As thoughtful than Schindler's List, without the drawn out dramatic elements...and was as insightful as The Pianist.

A multiple rent/view - perhaps one to own.

See this movie; you won't be "wow-explosioned" or overly "cleavaged" - it is realistic and subtly portrays a genuine appreciation for love and for living.

We were a bit distracted by the failure of the first relationship - as there was little character development related to that first, in that it seemed on first viewing that there was merely a physical attraction and that the sudden ending of it was not anticipated. A second viewing made it clear in hindsight (or we simply had missed it...?) This is a wonderful film, especially for parents longing for something to discuss with adolescents - to explain the intricacies of hardship, of relative human values and the folly of prejudice.
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Not just a Holocaust escapee story; it's more than that in a good way.
John Raymond Peterson18 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The timing for my watching this movie was unfortunate; I have recently seen three movies on related subject of the Holocaust, so I was not disposed in being entirely objective. That being said, this movie did offer an original take; it included a moving relation between a man saving a young Jewish boy from the well known fate of the rest of his family. The boy, Young Jakob, is played by Robbie Kay, who performs well, certainly thanks to the direction of Jeremy Podeswa (Boardwalk Empire) who also wrote the script from Anne Michael's novel; Kay portrays what it was to live in the haunting memory of the family he could not extinguish from his mind and in particular the memory of his 15 year old sister Bella, played by the beautiful and charming Nina Dobrev.

The movie does not follow a formal timeline not even in its flashbacks and in the scenes when both young Jakob and older Jakob has visions of his sister; she had an indelible mark on Jakob. The story also goes back and forth intermittently showing how devoted, kind and understanding the boy's savior, Athos, was and how he helped shape his future. The actors do a splendid job, but I found it was a bit too melodramatic at times. Perhaps the introverted character of older Jakob, played by Stephen Dillane, was what made the melodrama a bit more than I cared to see. It does not take away from his performance; I just was not in the best mood for this. He became a writer, encouraged by Athos, and predictably, his writings dealt with subject relating to the loss and effects of the loss of his family in WWII.

Rade Serbedzija, who plays Athos Roussos, Jakob's savior, performs his part very well, but it seems he always plays that very same character in so many of his movies; at least here I liked how he was, for all intent and purpose, a damn good father figure for Jakob. I won't forget the mature Jakob's love interests, Alex, played by the talented and delicious Rosamund Pike, who's zest for life was too much for the melancholic Jakob; thankfully he later is introduced to the gorgeous Michaela, played by Ayelet Zurer, a kindred spirit who unleashes in Jakob the desire for love and life in ways the viewer was likely to believe he was incapable of finding. The ending was unexpectedly a happy one, well not the sad one we could have expected before Michaela's introduction; it was the redeeming factor, which makes me okay with recommending it, providing the storyline is one that does not turn you off. p.s. The scenery of the Greek Islands where a good part of the story takes place will make you wish you lived there.
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An engaging drama
tao90224 July 2015
The film tells the story of a Polish man, Jakob, who was orphaned during the 2nd World War and saved by a Greek archaeologist. His saviour smuggles him out of Poland to Greece and relative safety. After the war they move to Canada and Jakob reflects on his life, writing about his traumatic childhood, the memories of which still haunt him. His troubled emotions lead to the break up of his marriage and he moves on with the intent of coming to terms with his past.

Towards the end of the film the story does perhaps get a little too profound and the ultimate resolution is a bit too neat and tidy to be believable. However, it's a great story.
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Too long and slow.
greg@biko.com.au16 October 2008
I couldn't resist feeling this is director's self-loving creation. And I'm here to admire his talents... Quite boring and unabsorbing movie. I was expecting much, much more given IMDb score... Subject of the movie also added to the expectations. Unfortunately, that's about it. Big disappointment. I left few times (in my mind). In reality I was hoping something would develop. Any minute now. Very slow.... But nada. Reminds me of European school. Directors forget about viewers and get tangled in their own world... Aftermovie I've checked demographics of voting= chick flick. Should have checked it before wasting my time... Sorry.
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Give me my neurons back, please
C. Sourdis2 December 2012
This movie is perfect but only if you want to deeply fall asleep, and the first 20 minutes should be enough do the work. But if you feel able to endure the suffering beyond that point, I've got something to tell you: it's not gonna get better at any point, nothing is ever gonna happen, it's the same crap over and over again. What a silly lost of time and what a waste of brain power. I feel mercilessly violated by this movie, which should have never been filmed at all, in the first place. Talking to the producers of this piece of nothing: ever thought about including some story into the project? Yes, "story", hello! anybody? I know it may sound like doing hard work and stuff but sometimes it is necessary, like when, you know..., like when you want to produce and deliver a meaningful film and not just rhetoric crap.
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If you think you've seen this movie before
jbirks10628 May 2015
This probably says more about my own gray matter than it does about the movie, but I was a good 20 minutes into "Fugitive Pieces" when I realized I'd already seen it. Still, there's something slightly generic about the film; well more than slightly, as Holocaust-survivor movies have become one of the more popular genres going. Let's just say that for me, "Pieces" was not a very memorable example of the genre.

One obvious problem: the protagonist, Jakob, is the least interesting character in the film. Yes, I know that he's a survivor, and that's made him laconic and introverted, but my god is he dull. (I haven't read the book and have no desire to, so perhaps the film is being faithful to the source material. If so this was a mistake.)Another problem: the actor, Stephen Dillane, is at least a decade too old for the part. The scene where he and Rade Serbedzija are shown on camera for the first time is jarring -- Dillane was 50 when the movie was shot; Serbedzija was 60. I find it beyond incredible that not one but two completely hot babes would totally fall for this dweeb. Only in sitcoms, and in the movies.

What I liked: this is a beautifully shot movie. Every frame is a marvel of composition, light and color. And while the Jakob character was a bit dull for my liking, I did appreciate that the movie didn't beat us over the head with the Nazis from Central Casting, as if we were just learning about their atrocities. There are a few, but they aren't gruesome nor gratuitous. In fact just about every character in the film is basically a good guy just trying to muddle through.
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Very well made and moving film if at times uneven
TheLittleSongbird21 March 2015
Fugitive Pieces had a fair bit to live up to. There is a great deal of talent in the cast and the book is incredible, one of the best I've ever read actually. The film may lack the emotional punch and dramatic thrust that the book had but neither does it disgrace it. The book is a very difficult one to adapt(almost unfilmable actually) and the film did so laudably, any film or series that tries to adapt difficult to adapt should be applauded for trying even if they don't entirely succeed.

The film does get too wordy at times, the narration is well written and sticks quite faithfully to the tone of the prose of the book but does over-explain too and takes one out of the film, this was a case of the film benefiting more by more show and less tell, as well as having a jumpy nature. The scenes where Jakob is an adult don't make the same impact of the scenes where he is a child, some of the scenes drag with the scenes between Jakob and Alex coming over as a little dull and flatly written(though well acted by Stephen Dillane and Rosamund Pike), and the narrative structure can be a bit jumpy and confused. And the alternate ending didn't work for me with that of the book being much more tonally fitting and powerful, the film's less downbeat one felt out of kilter and abrupt in how it deals with the characters' fates, almost like the writers weren't sure how to end it.

Fugitive Pieces on the other hand is very well made, it's gorgeously shot and the scenery and such are evocatively done, especially in the scenes with Jakob as a child. The music score is suitably elegiac, the direction is appropriately nuanced and although uneven the script has some truly memorable lines and in keeping with the stoic and sombre if very poetic nature of the book. The story's also uneven but mostly effectively paced and while I said that the book had more emotional punch and dramatic thrust that doesn't mean that the film is devoid of those qualities, the war scenes with Jakob as a child are incredibly harrowing and poignant. The acting is very good from all involved with the most impressive being Robbie Kay in one of the best child performances personally ever seen- playing the role with so much heart- and Rade Serbedzija who is gruff but sincere. I appreciated the subtlety of Stephen Dillane's performance, Nina Dobrev is charming and Ayelet Zurer is compassionate and heartfelt. Rosamund Pike is more than just eye candy, she does bring life and spark despite the writing lacking lustre in her scenes with Dillane and the role being a little thankless and vastly improved over the somewhat shallow and unlikeable Alex in the book.

Overall, uneven and doesn't completely succeed, but very well-made, well-acted and moving, worth seeing. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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beatthepixies3 January 2009
i hope that this insightful movie educates the world about the atrocities of the holocaust!!! unfortunately there are to many fools in the world who deny that such a thing even happened. this movie is just a glimpse of what hatred can do to our world its amazing to see a nation build themselves up again after so much wrong has been done to them, with their faith intact or even stronger than before! even though this movie does not show the evils of the holocaust in detail, it focuses on the aftermath and the psychological affect it has on generation to come in a subtle manner which proves to be somewhat more effective.
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The film tries but can't come close to the book
Froma Zeitlin15 February 2009
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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Escape from Nazi Poland in the 1940s.
TxMike21 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Saw this on Netflix streaming. The critic Ebert has a good review of it.

The story begins in 1942, as Nazis are rounding up Jews in Poland, and the little boy Jacob Beer is told to hide in a small place behind a seam in the wallpaper. He sees what happens, some of his family are killed, others including his 15-yr-old sister are taken away. Instead of staying put as he was told, he runs into the forest, until he can go no more and covers himself in leaves in a depression in the ground.

A Greek geologist Rade Serbedzija as Athos is in a team dig and finds Jacob, takes him to safety, brings him to Greece, raises him as if he were his own son. Eventually they move to Canada where Jacob grows up, eventually turning to writing and teaching.

This is a story of the human condition, in this case how the events of that day in 1942 shaped the life of Jacob. He could not forget, he could not help wondering what would have happened if he had stayed in the house as he was told. Was his sister Bella alive? If so would he ever find her? All this shaped how he saw the world, and how he reacted to others and potential relationships.

The source book was written by a poet, so it is fitting that much of Jacob's writing depicted in the movie has a highly poetic sound. It is a very good movie, it moves rather deliberately but is always interesting.

Stephen Dillane is the adult Jakob, I knew I had seen him before but could not place him, until IMDb reminded me he was Harry Vardon in "The Greatest Game", the story of how amateur Francis Ouimet won the US Amateur Golf championship in 1913. He was perfect as Vardon, and is perfect here as Jacob.
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