France | Canada | Czech Republic 2017
Opening August 17, 2017
Directed by: Christian Duguay
Writing credits: Alexandra Geismar, Jonathan Allouche, Benoit Guichard, Christian Duguay
Principal actors:Dorian le Clech, Batyste Fleurial Palmieri, Patrick Bruel, Elsa Zylberstein
This is the story of Joseph Joffo (le Clech) who had to travel by train, on foot and hitchhiking through France to reach the "free zone" in Nice. The Joffos are a secular Jewish family leading carefree lives in Paris until 1941 when the situation becomes dangerous. The parents (played by Elsa Zylberstein and the wonderful actor/singer Patrick Bruel) decide that traveling separately to Nice would lower the risk of being caught. And so Joseph and his slightly older brother Maurice (Palmieri) are sent off to fend for themselves. The traveling is difficult and scary but also, because the boys are young, an adventure which tightens the bond and close relationship that the boys already had.
In Nice the reunited family (including the two older sons) manages for a while - the two younger boys dealing in the black market - but then even being in Nice becomes risky. The boys are left at a Catholic school and make the best of hard times not knowing what has become of the rest of the family. When an outing proves disastrous, the boys are caught by the Nazis but saved first by a Jewish doctor and then by a Catholic priest. They again are on their own and Maurice works in a restaurant and Joseph delivers newspapers to keep them going. Both are naturally very adult before their time. When the war ends they make their way back to Paris. Their father Roman has been murdered in Auschwitz but the older brothers have returned and reopened the family barbershop.
This is a bittersweet ending to a true story of the strength of family ties - the kind that give backbone enough to endure the hardest of times. (Thelma F.)