In 1944, an 18-year old boy from small-town France, collaborates with the Nazi-regime and subsequently falls in love with a Jewish girl.In 1944, an 18-year old boy from small-town France, collaborates with the Nazi-regime and subsequently falls in love with a Jewish girl.In 1944, an 18-year old boy from small-town France, collaborates with the Nazi-regime and subsequently falls in love with a Jewish girl.
Based on the childhood memories of Louis Malle, Lacombe Lucien tells the story of Lucien (Pierre Blaise) a rural French teenager who, having been rejected by the French resistance in 1944, joins with the German occupiers and becomes an enforcer. It is brilliant in its understated portrait of how self-interest and pride can lead to regrettable choices.
Lucien lives with his mother together with another man while his father remains a prisoner of war. With limited education and lacking sophistication, Lucien is angered when his desire to join the underground is rejected because of his youth. Instead, he opportunistically becomes a member of the German police and soon takes on the persona of a surly thug. Malle makes clear that Lucien is neither fundamentally good nor bad, but only becomes involved with the Gestapo through a series of accidental circumstances. Though the film implies that Lucien is attracted to the Gestapo as a means for an individual without status or power to achieve a sense of self worth, ultimately Lucien must take responsibility for his choice.
He becomes involved with Albert Horn (Holger Lowenadler), a wealthy Jewish tailor from Paris, his mother Bella (Therese Giehse) who has lived in an Eastern European ghetto, and his young daughter France (Aurore Clement) who is totally Parisian and uncomfortable with her Jewish heritage. Their relationship becomes the turning point for Lucien's struggle to come to grips with who he is and retain his humanity. Though I felt repelled by Lucien's actions during the film, I also sympathized with his plight and understood the circumstances that led to his corruption. I felt he was moving toward self-awareness before the end of the film.
Lacombe Lucien poses moral questions about the point that innocence and immorality meet, and with its almost matter-of-fact style, the powerful conclusion almost takes us unaware. I found the film to be gripping and heartfelt and I would strongly recommend it. Pierre Blaise, in his first acting role as Lucien, turns in a performance of raw power. Unfortunately he was killed just one year later in an auto accident at the age of 24.
- Aug 5, 2002