There are so, so many films showing each year at the Toronto International Film festival that deciding what one can and should see becomes very tricky. I’ve often tried to base it around films that I expect may never come to Buffalo, or will not for some time. There are occasions when I just can’t resist the allure of a “big” movie, even if it’s one that will be opening within weeks. And there are others that simply fit into my schedule.
One that I was unable to see but made a mental note to check out ASAP was Cate Shortland’s “Lore,” and it was worth the wait. This is an emotionally devastating stunner set in Germany during World War II, focusing on the five children of an SS officer. Their mother and father leave them – the scene in which 14-year-old Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) chases after her mother is heart-piercing – and the children must attempt a harrowing journey to the home of their grandmother. Along the way they meet Thomas (Kai Malina), a refugee who may offer their only chance of survival.
Visually stunning, wonderfully acted by Rosendahl and Malina, and very moving (there is a death which is truly shattering), “Lore” is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. If we need to give it a star rating, I’d call it an easy four out of four.
Interestingly, I watched it shortly after finishing Steven Soderbergh’s HBO Liberace biopic, “Behind the Candelabra,” and it made me realize how unmemorable the admittedly entertaining “Candelabra” really is. It’s enjoyable (let’s say three stars), and Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are dead-on, but one never feels they’ve learned much more about the enigmatic “Lee” than they knew going in. It is likely one of the most inessential films of Soderbergh’s wildly varied career. I far preferred his underrated recent Rooney Mara-Jude Law-starrer, “Side Effects.”
Back to “Lore”: It will be interesting to see what’s next for the cast and director Shortland, a filmmaker I was unfamiliar with. “Lore” is new to DVD and Blu-ray from Music Box Films. I highly recommend you track it down.
Photo: Liesel (Nele Trebs), Lore (Saskia Rosendahl), Jürgen (Mika Seidel), and Günther (André Frid) in LORE. Courtesy of Music Box Films.