Saturday, August 22, 2009

Au Revoir Les Enfants

Au Revoir Les Enfants could probably be considered among the best non-combat war films to ever be made. It is at once bleak and sad, yet at the same time hopeful, the latter from the friendship between the two main characters, Julien Quentin and Jean Bonnet (Gaspard Manesse and Raphael Fejto, respectivly, give two of the greatest performances by young people ever.)

Julien has recently returned to the all-male boarding school he attends when he meets a new student, Jean. Seemingly polar opposites, Julien an apathetic schoolyard tough and Jean a quiet bookworm, the two become friends after a game of treasure hunt in which they become lost in the woods. They are found and returned to school by two Nazis, who are unaware that Jean is secretly Jewish, in only one of the many tense scenes in the film.

And the intensity comes naturally. It is never forced. It comes from the plot, not overbearing music or shadowy camera work. Not to say those are necessarily bad tools for developing suspense, but with a film like Au Revoir Les Enfants, the tension doesn't call for anything other than what the story allows it.

This is the first Louis Malle film I've seen. Although I know who he is and that he's considered one of the finest filmmakers of all-time, I simply haven't gotten around to seeing his films. I certainly will now. My fellow Cineaste, in his review of the film, said, "Thank you, Ted ,for selecting this film, because it is certainly the greatest movie yet seen on The Cineastes," in reference to Edouard Hill, whose selection this film was. I would certainly agree with his statement.


This month's CINEASTES review has been hosted by Edouard Hill at Allan Gray's Imagination (

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