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À la vie (2014)

Helen, Rose and Lili have survived the Holocaust and have never seen each other since the war has ended. In 1960, they meet again in Berck, France. They learn to enjoy together simple ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Hélène
... Lili
... Rose
... Henri
Mathias Mlekuz ... Raymond
Benjamin Wangermee ... Pierre
... La concierge
Béatrice Michel ... Madame Simone
Michel Drapier ... Le marchand de glaces
Frank Aoust ... Un serveur Charlier (as Franck Aoust)
Lucile Corbeille ... La maman au ballon
Jacqueline Segard ... Une cliente Charlier
... L'imprimeur
Patrick Ligardes ... Le mari de la concierge
Eric Slabiak ... Le violoniste


Helen, Rose and Lili have survived the Holocaust and have never seen each other since the war has ended. In 1960, they meet again in Berck, France. They learn to enjoy together simple pleasures in life: nice meals, ballads on the beach, playing in the waves... Written by isajademarilyn

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Bury the Past. Celebrate the Present. To Life!







Release Date:

26 November 2014 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Hélène et ses soeurs  »

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You are never fully liberated from Auschwitz
11 July 2016 | by See all my reviews

The French movie "À la vie" was shown in the U.S. with the translated title "To Life (2014)." It was written and directed by Jean-Jacques Zilbermann. The film is a Post-Holocaust saga, although it opens with scenes in Auschwitz that are truly horrific.

Hélène (Julie Depardieu) and Lily (Johanna ter Steege) were friends in Auschwitz, and they managed to survive the death march from Auschwitz to Louslau together. A third friend, Rose (Suzanne Clément) was unable to walk, so they were forced to leave her behind. As it turned out, Rose survived until the liberation of Auschwitz. The three did not see each other again until 1962, when they come together for a reunion at a beachside resort in Northern France.

We learn early in the movie that Lily divorced her husband after the war, and is living as a "free soul," with no permanent partner. Hélène and Rose both married concentration camp survivors.

The plot of the film--based on the lives of three actual friends--revolves around their interactions during the reunion. No matter how much ice cream they eat, and how they display their new bathing suits, thoughts keep circling back to Auschwitz.

They quarrel about tiny details which they remember differently. They revive horrible memories. It's clear that the reunion will change their lives, but whether the change will be for the better or for the worse is an open question.

For reasons I don't understand, "To Life" caries a terrible IMDb rating of 6.1. Fortunately, we saw it as part of the excellent Rochester Jewish Film Festival. If we hadn't had "All-Event" tickets, we probably would have stayed home. This is a movie to be seen, not missed. Ignore the rating and seek it out. It's available on DVD, and it will work well on the small screen. See it!

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