Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

TIFF Review: 'Lore' Is An Evocative & Enigmatic Look At Post-WWII Moral & Emotional Fallout

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 7, 2012 at 3:03PM

With her beautiful and expressive debut feature film "Somersault," writer/director Cate Shortland established herself as a filmmaker with a sharp and observant sense of the emotional complexities of young women. And now, eight years later, she returns with belated follow-up effort "Lore," another tale of a young woman not only navigating her burgeoning sexuality, but the emotional and moral fallout of post World War II Germany, all while she battles to keep her family together and alive as power in the country changes hands.
0
Cate Shortland's 'Lore'
Cate Shortland's 'Lore'

With her beautiful and expressive debut feature film "Somersault," writer/director Cate Shortland established herself as a filmmaker with a sharp and observant sense of the emotional complexities of young women. And now, eight years later, she returns with belated follow-up effort "Lore," another tale of a young woman not only navigating her burgeoning sexuality, but the emotional and moral fallout of post World War II Germany, all while she battles to keep her family together and alive as power in the country changes hands.

When we first meet Hannelore (Saskia Rosendahl) and her siblings, they are already on the move. It's spring 1945, Hitler is dead and the Nazis are on the run. Vati, her SS father, and Mutti, her mother, burn documents, taking anything of value they can, and pack everyone up and move out to a cabin the country. But allied forces are moving in, and it isn't long before Lore is left to lead her young charges to safety. Given money, items to bargain with and a plan of action by her mother before she voluntarily goes in to give herself up, Lore begins a cross country journey to bring everyone to their grandmother's house in Hamburg.

Lore, Cate Shortland

And while "Lore" does stick to the expected template of a point A to point B journey or adventure (for lack of a better word), Shortland's interests thankfully lie elsewhere, contributing to the film's more resonant character texture and depth. Lore has essentially been raised under the ideals and concepts of the Nazi party, but as it becomes clear that Hitler's vision of Germany will come for naught, everything her personal belief system has been built on begins to crumble. Images of mass graves and concentration camps are posted in towns and villages, giving Lore a bracing perspective of the war she's never seen or heard of before. And combined with her own coming of age, particularly in a moment when sex is being used both as currency and as a blanket of security, Lore struggles to make heads or tails of her world.

Complicating matters is the arrival of Thomas, a Jew, who provides for and protects Lore and her brothers and sisters, but with a vague idea of what he looks to gain out of the matter. He makes no secret of his attraction to Lore, but stops short of taking advantage of her. And while his care and concern over the younger ones is seemingly sincere, he's aloof enough that he could likely decide to go back out on his own at any moment. It speaks to the temporary and uneasy alliances of the time, and clearly Lore grapples with both his assistance and distance, complicated by her longstanding training that Jews can't be trusted.

Lore Shortland 5

It's a heady mix of thematic ideas, and while compelling, Shortland misses fully delivering on them thanks to an approach that at times can be coldly enigmatic. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Adam Arkapaw ("Animal Kingdom," "The Snowtown Murders"), Shortland takes an almost Terrence Malick-level interest in the rural surroundings that Lore, Thomas and the group traverse. Animals are of particular interest with snails, turtles, chicken, fish, sheep, crabs and more getting patient attention from the camera. And numerous shots of trees waving in the breeze, fields undulating in the afternoon and clouds rolling across the sky suggest nature as an anonymous spectator to the horrors happening around it.

And as lovely as all this is, it sometimes comes at the expense of continuing to explore the characters and their struggle with understanding and surviving everything that has monumentally changed around them. And this isn't helped by Shortland's cryptic approach, which almost completely internalizes Lore's turmoil, masking motivations that during key moments would've added greater impact, rather than giving them a slightly unsatisfying air of mystery.

While a film of great craft, strongly performed by the cast across the board, and particulary by the lead, newcomer Saskia Rosendahl, "Lore" never lets the audience in close enough for it to be a truly embraceable picture. It's certainly admirable, and we've rarely seen a WWII film approached from this angle, but one wishes "Lore" would let the audience in a bit closer. [B-] 

This article is related to: Lore , TIFF, Review, Cate Shortland


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates