A Bag of Marbles (2017)
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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!
Title (Brazil): "Os Meninos Que Enganavam Nazistas" ("The Boys That Lure the Nazi")
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.