Saturday, November 11, 2006

nina's house

"Quietly magnificent, if classically told, tale of tentative, incremental readjustment by young Jews who survived the horrors of WWII, LA MAISON DE NINA takes place between Sept 1944 and Jan 1946 in an orphanage housed in a chateau outside Paris. ... Starting in 1944, in the wake of the Liberation, and continuing into the '60s, "houses of hope" were established to lend a semblance of continuity to the lives of youngsters orphaned by the war. Dembo, born in 1948, went to summer camp in one such establishment, where he observed some of the people who had lived there since the war – and the real-life Nina who inspired his script. ... Conflicts are keenly portrayed between the initial residents (who lean toward secular Jewish pride) versus the boys and young men from points East, including Poland and Romania, who survived the camps. Latter feel obliged to assert the faith of their exterminated fathers and revive their rituals. ...

"Jean (Alexis Pivot) still plays classical piano but is no longer comforted by the music; Sylvie (Adele Csech) and her little brother, Georges (Jeremy Sitbon), dream of their mother every night; Izik (Gaspard Ulliel) has gone mute; Gabriel (Vincent Rottiers) discovers one of his parents survived the war, yet can't rejoice; and Leiser (David Mambouch, a standout) needs to re-connect with the teachings of the Torah. ... Precise dates are superimposed to indicate such momentous events as the fall of Berlin and Hitler's suicide, the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima and the founding of the United Nations. All are contrasted with the smaller but equally momentous events at the chateau."

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