The Second World War imposed a shared fate on Europe’s Jews, but the postwar scattering made for thousands of individual stories, real and imagined. Diane Kurys’s (Peppermint Soda, Entre Nous) latest venture is both—real and imagined—as she mines her autobiography to fictionalize the early years of her parents’ marriage, a mysterious uncle of whom nobody speaks and the circumstances of her birth. Intimacy is the key to Kurys’s novelistic framing of the couple in whose world she found “a space to grow up in.” In a corner of Lyon, France, in 1945, Michel (Benoit Magimel), a Ukrainian-born French Jew, embodies the spirit of the moment: an ardent Communist Party member, he nevertheless has dreams that include a car for him and a refrigerator for his bride Lena (Melanie Thierry). She was barely out of her teens when they met in a camp but the pressures of freedom cannot sustain a love born of imprisonment and escape. The unexpected arrival of Michel’s brother Jean, thought to have died, brings with it reminders of the recent horrors that Michel prefers to push away, and a way out to which Lena is drawn. Women, too, feel the pull of a new world—however ill defined, however inconvenient.
Bay Area Premiere