À La Vie

To onlookers enjoying a day on the beach, Rose, Lili, and Hélène appear to be close girlfriends.  Underneath their contentment is a turbulent past also experienced by other Jewish people who were fortunate to escape Auschwitz.

À La Vie captures a time in the 1960s when the Jewish population were still learning how to cope after their genocide survival.  When the friends reunite at a beachy vacation spot in Berck, France, they approach such subject matter with sensitive apprehension;  struggling with decisions to either smother the past or voice their distress.  The movie takes shape as an indirect character study;  not necessarily focusing on individual players but rather on personal feelings many are still enduring.

Jean-Jacques Zilbermann thorny drama À La Vie is a top-notch film.  More specifically, it’s a wonderment for those who could lose themselves in a library for hours reading about history, or for movie goers who mainly look for notable costume and art design.  Zilbermann’s eye for period detail transports the audience to a summer in the 1960s, while the story is considerably anchored by the film’s principal performers (Julie Depardieu, Johanna ter Steege, Suzanne Clément).  The film only becomes problematic when a rote love triangle and a heavy Klezmer score give À La Vie a rising schmaltz factor.

With the summer approaching and blockbusters quickly filling theatres, À La Vie’s respectable substance and lazy river approach makes for fine counter-programming.


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