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It's inspiring true story about two thirteen year old girls who were, on the eve of World War II, great dancing and acting stars in Zagreb. Selling out theater venues, they weer praised in the most superb headlines by the Croatian and European press. They were filmed by Parisian 'Pathe' and Berlin's UFA... During the Nazi persecution of Jews and later German nationals' flight from communists, a dramatic friendship was born through entertainment, dance, but also anxiety. This led towards an unexpected end. Written by
Art versus war through the eyes of a teenage Jewish child
First a few facts: this film was based on a true story so the director had a rather demanding task to balance between the facts and fiction in a way that wouldn't lead to clichés and stereotypes. In my opinion, he did the job quite successfully. The film is definitely not a master piece, but it's interesting enough. It brings a rather strong message about the Holocaust without the horrifying images that we're generally used to seeing in similar films and documentaries. Primarily, this is a film about the invincibility of a human spirit! The viewers can sense this through the eyes and voice of Lea Deutsch, an extremely popular Jewish kid actress in the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, whose great misfortune was that her career started to flourish shortly before the outbreak of the World War Two.
Some Croatian critics made remarks that the director simplified the broader political context of the time, but I believe it's irrelevant for the story. This wasn't meant to be a documentary, and furthermore - people in Croatia are mostly familiar with this dark episode of their history, while others can simply google it if they need more information.
However, the film itself contains some good and some weak points. The good points are the scenery that looks slightly artistic, there are a few unexpected reversals, the plot even touches the fate of gay people in the Nazi regime and the action is generally fast-moving. I didn't like all the actors, but three of them were really persuasive in their roles: young Klara Naka who plays Lea Deutsch, Sebastian Cavazza and Zrinka Cviteić who have strongly portrayed Lea's parents without being pathetic. Vedran ivolić was also great as Tadija. Some other actors were slightly irritating, on the other hand. In my opinion, the weakest point is the Innsbruck part, with old Darija hearing Lea's voice in her head. Personally, I would have left it out.
Overall, I felt like the film was missing the secret ingredient for stronger emotions and compassion, but as I had said previously, this would probably lead to stereotypes, which the director clearly wanted to avoid.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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