Having just unearthed a precious vinyl record, a middle-aged dentist needs one hour of peace to enjoy the rare album; however, his distraught wife; his activist son, and a maladroit plumber have other plans. Will he ever listen to it?
An important and powerful movie, brilliantly done!
A BAG OF MARBLES (2017)
This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.
In 1941, Paris is occupied by the Nazi's. Ten-year-old Joseph and twelve-year-old Maurice, the two youngest sons of Russian Jewish immigrants Roman and Anna, come home from school for a quick dinner of soup, after which they are handed cash and a hand drawn map with directions they must memorize in order to make the trip on foot by themselves from Paris to Nice; there, the plan is to meet up with their parents a safe distance from the police round-ups in Paris. Roman, who owns a barbershop, has concluded that traveling alone is less conspicuous than trying to escape as a family unit.
Before the boys leave, Roman gives Joseph a lesson of how to deny he is a Jew; every time he asks his son, "Are you a Jew?" Joseph answers, "No," and Roman slaps him on his face, viscerally demonstrating what his sons might encounter during their journey. The boys are told not to trust anyone, there will be cons out there, and then, just like that, they are off on their own, heading away down the cobblestone street as Anna and Roman watch in tears from the window.
Earlier that afternoon, Joseph, (played by a precious and utterly honest Dorian Le Clech), traded his yellow Star of David patch for a bag of marbles, not fully understanding his religion, why he is being persecuted, or by whom. His innocence shines like the moon in a pitch black sky through the grueling situations that unfold over the course of this film. Jo's boyhood is lost to these ugly circumstsnces, but his boyish spirit beautifully endures throughout, which increases the drama and full investment in this story.
Traveling alone over mountaintops in France, heading for the Free Zone, the sweeping scenery brings to mind "The Sound of Music," but there are no choruses of Do Re Mi in this film. The boys encounter some cons, as they had been forewarned of, and also some helpers, including a young guide, and two men who risk their own safety to protect the lives of the young brothers. The boys are alternatively scrappy, scared, and brave as they pull on wisdom and perseverence to get them through terrible situations. I see this as a buddy picture as these devoted brothers fight for their lives together through rough and spectacular terrain.
I think that middle school children and teens as well as adults would get something from this excellent film.
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