Friday, September 05, 2008

One Day You'll Understand (Amos Gitai, 2008)

Mom’s hope chest turns out to be a veritable Pandora’s box of suriviors’ guilt in this self-serious, but fairly misconceived slog through Holocaust memories. It starts out well enough, with the novel intention that a woman’s choice to hide her Jewish identity is a protective gesture toward her son, but as the film proceeds it becomes increasingly ridiculous. Poor Hippolyte Girardot is asked to take the crushing weight of the genocide on his shoulders, and is expected to do so in a series of laughably expositional scenes that offer him little chance to exist as anything else.

Gitai’s formal approach, which begins with extended sequence shots, seems to at first suggest that the film’s roving camera mirror’s the protagonist’s search, but the director abandons any pretense of rigor by the midway point. He throws away the movie’s cogent perspective on memory and the toll that this sort of investigating takes on the soul for an ill-advised flashback and an embarrassing dramatic recreation of a Gestapo raid. Whatever strengths Gitai might have as a director, he is incapable of creating engaging montage, which means that what should be the movie’s climax feels completely hollow. From there, it only gets worse, as the movie becomes some sort of bland commercial for cultural acceptance and another tiresome statement that no amends are possible for the Holocaust.

Rating: 37/100

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