By: Skip Sheffield
“La Rafle” is a new film at FAU’s Living Room Theaters. It is of special interest to students of the Holocaust and French history. “La Rafle” tells the horrific story of the roundup of the Jews of Paris in the summer of 1942.
While “La Rafle” (“The Roundup”) is a work of fiction, written and directed by Rose Bosch, it is based on real events and real characters. It shares a similar subject matter with “Sarah’s Key,” but what makes this film so poignant is that it is told from the point of view of the innocent children of the roundup.
In June of 1942 Adolph Hitler was reaching the peak of his anti-Semitic hatred and his own megalomania. Hitler insisted on nothing short of the extermination of all Jews in German-occupied Europe. The most despicable part of the story is the way the French military and Paris police cooperated with Nazi murderers.
French Jews could not conceive they would be betrayed by their own government. There was some resistance from compassionate French gentiles. Of the 23,000 Jews of Paris, 10,000 disappeared immediately into the protection of French sympathizers.
Joseph “Jo” Weismann (Hugo Leverdez) is an 11-year-old Jewish boy more clever and resourceful than most. Through his eyes we see the increasing discrimination and persecution of Jews up to the fateful day of July 16, 1942 when the roundup herded Jews to a large bicycle stadium where they would await shipment to the extermination camps to the east.
The heroes of this story are the Jewish Dr. David Sheinbaum (Jean Reno) and a Christian Red Cross nurse, Annette Monod (Melanie Laurent).
Of the 13,000 Jews crammed into the Velodrome D’Hiver, only 25 were known to survive. This film tells the story of one of them. While it depicts the darkest, most vile, despicable part of human behavior, ultimately it offers the hope of survival against all odds.
Three and a half stars
“Thin Ice” playing at Living Room Theaters
Also opening at Living Room Theaters is “Thin Ice.” Greg Kinnear usually plays likeable good guys. Not this time.
Kinnear is Mickey Prohaska, a desperate, dishonest insurance agent in the frosty climes of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mickey is separated from his wife Jo Ann (Lea Thompson) and we can see why. He is not honest or faithful.
Mickey is always on the lookout for easy money. When he tries to sell an insurance party to a gullible old man (Alan Arkin), he spots what he thinks could be a valuable old violin.
“Borrowing” money from his estranged wife’s bank account is the first step into a web of deceit. Soon Mickey will be dealing with a volatile ex-con locksmith known as Randy (Billy Crudup), a Chicago violin collector (Bob Balaban), a dead body and more trouble than Mickey has ever known.
“Thin Ice” is a classic con and double-cross tale, written by Jill Sprecher, who also directs, and Karen Sprecher. Though terrible things happen to the characters it is also absurdly funny in an inky dark way. It’s good to see Greg Kinnear testing his wings on darker, edgier material. Mickey’s growing panic is convincing yet oh so well-deserved.