Starting in a WWII concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, this love story follows young Tomasz (Mateusz Damiecki), a Polish prisoner and his Jewish girlfriend Hannah (Alice Dwyer) who escape the compound together and flee. But after a short burst of freedom, they become separated. Soon, both are convinced the other is dead. Happily married and living in New York 30 years later, Hannah (Dagmar Manzel) accidentally discovers - via a TV interview - that Tomasz (Lech Mackiewicz) is still alive and she sets out to find him. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Emotionally powerful and achingly romantic, despite the origins of the story in a WWII concentration camp, Remebrance is compelling viewing. Given the time span, it's important to establish the emotional bond, the human importance of what's at stake in the romantic relationship and how it was forged in the fires of desperation, danger and defiance. That's where the emotional depth comes from for both the characters and us. It's not like a college couple reuniting.
How can you explain in rational terms a deep seated emotional connection to someone in the past where you went through life threatening escapades while in love? Especially to a partner of 30 years? Shifting sands of betrayal dog you every inch of the way.
One of the film's most effective moments comes about half way with a wordless scene in which the escaped young Hannah is hiding in her boyfriend's house, where she is not welcome, being Jewish. Superbly shot and directed, it's a masterclass in cinema.
Cutting back and forth in time is tricky, but here the filmmakers do it with such sensitivity and storytelling nous that it carries us through the emotional journey with flying colours. And the gentle, subtle, restrained ending is exquisite.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's a poignant simplicity about the telling of this complex story that begins in a concentration camp during WWII and ends two decades later. With its elements of love, war and the passage of time, director Anna Justice successfully weaves together the timeframes, the storytelling leapfrogging back and forth with syncopated rhythms, allowing us to understand the life and death stakes and emotional angst. A man and a woman fall in love in a concentration camp in Poland during the war. What future could they possibly have? This uplifting tale about war, love and survival is a story about courage, bravery and the will to survive. Its belief that love connects two people irrevocably is a romantic one and one which reflects the spirit of the tale.
After a brief prologue set in 1976 in which we meet Hannah (Dagmar Manzel) in New York writing her thoughts about the past in a letter, the film quickly takes us to Poland in 1944 where most of the action takes place. We immediately understand the desperation of the hopeless relationship between the two lovers (Alice Dwyer, Mateusz Damiecki) in dire circumstances. We hold our breath through the daring escape but the relief when they reach a safe house is short lived and unexpectedly threatened. The scene in which Tomas' mother Stefania (Susanne Lothar) invites a German officer into the house in which Hannah is hiding is one of the film's best. The tension is palpable. Dwyer is a lovely presence - vulnerable and appealing and much of the film's appeal is a result of her. It is Hannah's story.
The film establishes its own rhythm as the story of the young lovers progresses while the older Hannah sees a television interview that changes her life. It is easy to understand her inability to share her emotions with her husband of many years (David Rasche) and daughter (Shantel VanSanten).
Justice handles the climactic reunion between Hannah and Tomas (Lech Mackiewicz) beautifully in a dialogue-free sequence in which lyrical music filled with melancholy, anticipation and expectation is used. The tinkling notes that dance at the top end of the register signal the resonance of the moment. It's a moving film and one that is deserving of attention.
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Die verlorene Zeit
CAST: Alice Dwyer, Dagmar Manzel, Mateusz Damiecki, Lech Mackiewicz, Susanne Lothar, Joanna Kulig
PRODUCER: Sven Woldt
DIRECTOR: Anna Justice
SCRIPT: Pam Katz, Anna Justice
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sebastian Edschmid
EDITOR: Uta Schmidt
MUSIC: Christoph Kaiser, Julian Maas
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andreas Olshausen
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Arkles
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney (Orpheum & Cinema Paris): October 31, 2013