A Bag of Marbles (2017) Poster

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a movie that needed to be made and needs to be seen
gcarpiceci-7326820 January 2017
It is difficult to find the words to review a movie - and even more assign a rating - on a subject like the holocaust, drawing a line between an objective review of the filmic qualities of the movie and the emotional impact of its context. Nevertheless, I found it beautiful, delicate, moving, excruciating - even more so knowing it comes from a true story. The performance of the key actors is impeccable, always perfectly measured even in the most dramatic moments; the narrative tension is maintained high throughout the whole movie between the brutal reality of the events and the poetry of such reality seen through the eyes of a little, brave kid. Personally, I place Un Sac de Billes next to Schindler's List and La Vita é Bella; a movie that needed to be made and needs to be seen.
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Beautiful movie
sofi_flores29 May 2017
I have no words to explain how much I loved this movie, it was based on a real life situation and it really gets to you. The story, the plot and the acting is amazing. The movie gives you a beautiful message, i'm not gonna lie, it made me cry into tears. It touches your heart in a way no other movie can.
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Very powerful movie about courage in impossible situations
Red-1253 August 2018
Un Sac de Billes was shown in the United States with the translated title A Bag pf Marbles. The film was directed by Christian Duguay. The movie is set in Occupied France. A Jewish family knows that if they stay in Paris, they'll be captured and sent to a concentration camp. Their strategy was to escape to Vichy France. Vichy France was still under German control, but most of the occupying soldiers were Italian. When Italy signed an armistice with the allies, German soldiers moved in. Vichy France was no longer the relatively safe haven that it had been.

The movie follows two brothers as they painfully make their way to Vichy France, and then try to survive the Nazi occupation. The movie is based on the autobiography of the younger brother--Roman. So, we know that he survived to write about their ordeal. What happened to the rest of the family is something we learn as the movie progresses.

The two young actors (Dorian Le Clech as Joseph and Patrick Bruel as Roman) are superb. Equally excellent were the actors in supporting roles.

A Bag of Marbles is an outstanding movie. We saw it on the large screen at the JCC Hart Theatre as part of the wonderful Rochester Jewish Film Festival. The film has a solid IMDb rating of 7.3, but I think it's even better than that. It will work on the small screen. Seek it out and watch it!
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It is one of the best movies I have ever seen about WWII. I trully adored these two brothers and the affection between them. It is about family, caring, trusting, loving. What makes it special among other WWII movies is the fact that it does not focus on the battles or the holocaust itself two much, so it is friendly enough for a younger audience. The picture is amazing and the soundrack is totally touching. And when it comes about acting, oohh when it comes about acting. . .you'll see! I really don't want to overdo it with my review, so I will let you enjoy it. An explosion of emotions shall begin...
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Gives the Sensation of Déjàvu
claudio_carvalho11 August 2018
"Un sac de billes" is another film about a Jewish family shattered by the German invasion. The story is not original since the tragedies are very alike and there is lack of emotion with the cold direction by Christian Duguay. After more than seventy years and hundreds of movies about this sad period of the mankind history, a new film about this theme should have something different in excitement or emotion; otherwise will give the sensation of déjàvu for the viewer. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Os Meninos Que Enganavam Nazistas" ("The Boys That Lure the Nazi")
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Una película entrañable An endearing movie
Andres-Camara3 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
El problema es que se queda ahí. No pasa de ser eso. Ves la película, lo pasas bien con los chavales, llega al final y al final piensas ¿pero no era de alemanes? El problema es que no salen casi nada, no te da ni tiempo a ver lo malos que eran.

El casting para mí no es bueno. Si bien los dos niños están estupendos, la hija del librero es demasiado mayor. No pega en esta película.

La iluminación de esta película es muy normal. No consigue levantarla. No es ni muy bonita ni muy buena. Es muy francesa, muy blanca. No le imprime ninguna ambientación.

La dirección es para mí demasiado loca. Esos movimientos de cámara, no me gustan nada. No creo que le sienten bien a la película. A veces hace planos feos y lo que no hace es contar con la cámara. Al menos no te aburre y consigue que cojas cariño a los actores

Para verla en familia

The problem is that it stays there. It does not happen to be that. You see the movie, you have a good time with the kids, you reach the end and at the end you think, but it was not German? The problem is that almost nothing comes out, it does not give you time to see how bad they were.

The casting for me is not good. While the two children are great, the bookseller's daughter is too old. Do not hit on this movie.

The lighting of this movie is very normal. He can not lift it. It is neither very beautiful nor very good. It's very French, very white. It does not print any atmosphere.

The address is too crazy for me. Those camera movements, I do not like anything. I do not think the movie feels good. Sometimes he makes ugly plans and what he does not do is count on the camera. At least it does not bore you and get you to love the actors

To see her as a family
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Hard to argue with
blumdeluxe2 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Un sac de billes" tells the story of two young Jewish boys in France during the German occupation, who have to split from their family in order to have a better chance of survival. During the long months until the liberation, both face death several times and can only escape with a lot of luck and help.

It is of course hard to say anything against this film. It is based on the memories of a surviving family, shows a bitter reality and sheds light on a group of people that often is forgotten: The ones who survived in hiding. Unfortunatelly, the big narrative in terms of filmmaking is missing a bit. You do emphasize with the lead characters of course but it feels like a lot of stories are told at the same time and that somehow destroys the bigger picture. Thus what you get is a good movie, an important one as well, but not one that outstands in its way of telling the story.

All in all this is a movie that can be recommended, but I fear it is not one that will be recognized by larger audiences. I think that the story would have more potential but nontheless this is a more than solid approach.
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Formulaic yet essential
kluseba4 December 2017
A Bag of Marbles is yet another novel and movie about the fate of a Jewish family during the Second World War. Don't get me wrong, it's an important topic, a dark part of history that shall never be forgotten and a thematic that is sadly still relevant nowadays. However, so many novels and movies have already explored the exact same approach presented in this film: Au revoir les enfants, Life is Beautiful, The Book Thief, The Diary of Anne Frank and Schindler's List are only some movies that immediately come to my mind. Instead of getting another similar scenario, it would have been interesting to follow the torn family of collaborators in this film for example. Another fresh change could have been to finally offer the perspective of young German soldiers manipulated by propaganda and disillusioned by war. Since this is a French movie, it's also a little bit too convenient to simply blame the foreign enemy and would have been much more interesting to investigate the crimes of Marshal Pétain in depth. Why not make a movie about revolting French antisemitism in the Dreyfus Affair? Or a movie about France's own racist attitude in their colonies? Instead of trying out anything new, A Bag of Marbles plays it safe and the fact that the novel and movie are based upon true events doesn't help much.

On the positive side, the acting performances by the teenagers incarnating the two brothers are stellar. The changes of locations keep the movie entertaining and give it an epic touch. The addition of numerous quirky side characters who are trying to find ways to hide their fears adds diversity to the film. There are a few memorable scenes such as the father beating up his own son to teach him how to deny his identity, the younger brother stepping up to save a family of collaborators in an act of civic courage and the same character desperately running after his desperate sweetheart whose family just got attacked by an angry mob.

On the other side, the story doesn't offer anything new, is slightly dull and slow-paced in the middle section and only touches the surface of several interesting characters such as the Jewish doctor or the family of collaborators. Several chapters from the novel aren't included in the cinematic adaptation and a few details are also changed. Instead of showing the brothers endlessly wandering across mountains, the film should have spent more time developing the numerous interesting side characters and giving some additional information about the historic background.

In the end, A Bag of Marbles is ultimately a good film but suffers from being just another movie about the fate of a Jewish family during the Second World War. The movie itself has its reasons to be, has a quirky and epic approach going for it and convinces with two really good lead actors. However, European cinema has been saturated with movies of this kind over the past three decades and this film fails both to offer anything new and to compete with its numerous competitors. The most authentic, gripping and sinister movie of this kind is the outstanding The Pianist. But if you really want to get an idea of the horrors of the Second World War, you have to visit a former concentration camp which is an absolutely life-changing experience.
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Loved It, See It
slocumjohno22 April 2018
A story of the unbreakable bonds of family with the backdrop of being Jewish in France during the Nazi occupation. I didn't read the book or see the original 1975 movie version, I loved this movie.

The fact that it is a true story makes it even more important. Why can't we see more movies like this?

My favorite part was when Jo observes that no matter who you meet in France, whatever their outward actions are, you still see fear in their eyes.
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2 boys on the run from the Nazis, a great success
Horst_In_Translation17 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Un sac de billes" or "A Bag of Marbles" is the newest work by Emmy-nominated Canadian filmmaker Christian Duguay. This film is based on a novel and it is also a remake of a film with the same title from the 1970s, over 40 years ago. I have no seen this old film and not read the novel, so I cannot elaborate on parallels and differences between these works and this new 110-minute film. I am also not familiar with Duguay, but I know that I sure liked what I saw here and this film is a fine example of how it is still really possible with the right talent and approach to make films about the dark years between 1933 and 1945. The film plays in France from start to finish, so you will hear mostly French language and should go for a good set of subtitles if you aren't fluent in this beautiful language.

I think this was a really good ensemble performance where nobody was really great, but everybody was good and added their share to the overall outcome. If I had to pick one, I'd maybe go with Patrick Bruel, who was a really great surprise in here as I think I knew the name only referred to his singing career. The most known name is probably Christian Clavier thanks to his Astérix performances, but he really only plays a minor character here. The film is interesting from start to finish, but I would say there were three scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. The first would be the slapping scene that should prepare the boy(s), the second would be the trap that they could try to get out, but would have been killed and finally the ending that works perfect from the realistic and touching perspectives. Certainly one of the most emotional scenes from 2017. (Honorable mention to the scene when the boy near the end screams out his religion multiple times that he had to hide for so long. This one was certainly walking the edge between cringe and powerful, but as he basically saved a collaborator that moment the scene makes a great impact too, it's up to you to decide if for the right or wrong reasons, I myself am still undecided too.) This is also one of the film's greatest strengths, it may be dramatic from start to finish, but it's always authentic in my opinion. And it is really easy to feel for the characters, for example to wonder if the guy who helps them getting away for a low price early on is really good or evil. Or before they are caught if the driver is trying to trap them when the older boy cannot open the door on his side of the car.

Overall, this is just a really well-done WWII film from start to finish that offers absolutely everything you could hope for if the context/time interests you as much as it interests me. For me it is one of the very best 2017 releases I have seen by now, top3 probably. I would not be surprised if France submits it to the Oscars and it could make a nice run there too. Top9 would be the minimum, a nomination seems likely and I would not be too surprised to see it as a contender for the win even. It's better than "A nagy füzet" (The Notebook) and as good as "Wolfskinder" (Wolfschildren), 2 films that deal with a similar subject and that you may want to give a go too if you watched and liked this one we have here. I really would be surprised if you didn't. Big thumbs-up from me. Highly recommended.
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Beautiful Tribute
waitsfortherain14 August 2017
There is a borderline territory between reality and dreams where we all dwell in early childhood. As we grow up, it starts fading away. By the time we become adults, most of us can hardly remember having been there. To bring it back is unthinkable. No one can do it. Yet, with varying degrees of success, some insist on trying. The vehicle they choose also varies a lot. It can be a novel, a play, a poem, a song- - or a film. Some of the most amazing re-creations of the lost territory between reality and dreams are films directed by immensely gifted artists who, from the start, knew exactly what they were after and not for a moment lost track of what they had to do to get it. This kind of film cannot afford being "all right." It must be perfect. Otherwise the whole project fails. Nothing happens. It becomes a film that never was.

"A Bag of Marbles" may be one of the four or five films of that kind ever made without a single frame that could be called phony. I cannot remember the last time I saw a regular audience, not the audience of a premiere or a film festival, applaud in the end. It never fails to move me when it happens. It happened yesterday at the end of this marvelous film, made with so much care that it's destined to become a milestone. Photography couldn't be more beautiful, nor could the art direction, bringing to life in the most extraordinary way the atmosphere of occupied France in the early 1940s. The music is perfect. The screenplay is a gem, its treatment of time being absolutely breathtaking. But the star of the show really is the casting director. It's very rare to see a film with so many peripheral characters in which every single actor has been cast to perfection. Not to mention the choice of Dorian Le Clech, the little boy who plays the lead. A really long time will have to go by until we see another child play such a complex character with so much authority.

The man who put it all together, turning "A Bag of Marbles" into one of the most rewarding experiences in movie-going anyone may have had in years, surely deserves the beautiful, quite unexpected tribute I saw him get from a regular audience as the film ended and they realized Christian Duguay had honored them with a masterpiece.
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An important and powerful movie, brilliantly done!
sashlauren12 June 2019

This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

In 1941, Paris is occupied by the Nazi's. Ten-year-old Joseph and twelve-year-old Maurice, the two youngest sons of Russian Jewish immigrants Roman and Anna, come home from school for a quick dinner of soup, after which they are handed cash and a hand drawn map with directions they must memorize in order to make the trip on foot by themselves from Paris to Nice; there, the plan is to meet up with their parents a safe distance from the police round-ups in Paris. Roman, who owns a barbershop, has concluded that traveling alone is less conspicuous than trying to escape as a family unit.

Before the boys leave, Roman gives Joseph a lesson of how to deny he is a Jew; every time he asks his son, "Are you a Jew?" Joseph answers, "No," and Roman slaps him on his face, viscerally demonstrating what his sons might encounter during their journey. The boys are told not to trust anyone, there will be cons out there, and then, just like that, they are off on their own, heading away down the cobblestone street as Anna and Roman watch in tears from the window.

Earlier that afternoon, Joseph, (played by a precious and utterly honest Dorian Le Clech), traded his yellow Star of David patch for a bag of marbles, not fully understanding his religion, why he is being persecuted, or by whom. His innocence shines like the moon in a pitch black sky through the grueling situations that unfold over the course of this film. Jo's boyhood is lost to these ugly circumstsnces, but his boyish spirit beautifully endures throughout, which increases the drama and full investment in this story.

Traveling alone over mountaintops in France, heading for the Free Zone, the sweeping scenery brings to mind "The Sound of Music," but there are no choruses of Do Re Mi in this film. The boys encounter some cons, as they had been forewarned of, and also some helpers, including a young guide, and two men who risk their own safety to protect the lives of the young brothers. The boys are alternatively scrappy, scared, and brave as they pull on wisdom and perseverence to get them through terrible situations. I see this as a buddy picture as these devoted brothers fight for their lives together through rough and spectacular terrain.

I think that middle school children and teens as well as adults would get something from this excellent film.
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True story with high emotions
Luigi Di Pilla2 December 2017
I am very interested in movies about the last world war. What makes me sad is how brutal the chase was against Jewish people and children. This true story let since long time again tears in my eyes. I mean Patrick Bruel and the two boys played their roles very convincingly and with lot of passion. The filming locations in Nice and Savoie have been well presented. I liked it very much and it was never boring. There were lot of turns and some painful scenes that touched me a lot. Christian Dugay directed this historical remake with full of attention and respect. I didn't see the first one but the last is perhaps even better than the original version.

If you liked this genre of movie don't miss Der Letzte Zug, Son of Soul, Die Fâlscher, The Pianist, Sarah's Key or Elser. If you are interested read my critics on this site for all these mentioned great movies.

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