“A Bag of Marbles”–movie review   Leave a comment

Germany, France, Auschwitz, yellow stars, WW 2, Hitler, Mussolini, Nazis—sound familiar? Well, it isn’t quite what you expect though all the above are mentioned with Joseph and Maurice added.

Joseph and Maurice are the sons of Roman, the local barber. At 10 and 12, the boys have so little understanding of the persecution of Jews that Joseph thinks nothing of swapping his yellow star for a bag of marbles. Despite their naiveté, Roman knows that their best chance to escape the Nazi roundup is to flee on their own to where their older brothers Albert and Henri have found safe haven. Always one false move from tragedy, these tenacious urchins survive on courage, ingenuity and more than a bit of cunning as they make their precarious way through France hoping to reunite with their family. More than anything, it’s their brotherly bond that gets them through their ordeals. 

The boys are sly, cunning, smart and mischievous while the director Christian Duguay and cinema photography Christophe Graillot along with screenwriters Jonathan Allouche and Alexandra Geismar add some touches of whimsy like the boys running through a field of yellow flowers without a sign of war, of any invasion or bombers across the picture perfect sky.

The fact that they are Jews are never forgotten and the ways of hiding it such as explaining Joseph being circumcised is presented logically and it is quite possible a Jewish doctor and 2 priests knowingly helped them while a family who is collaborating with the Nazis helped them unknowingly.

The acting is above board and Jo, the youngest brother, played by Dorian Le Clech can’t be faulted while Batyste Fleurial Palmieri, as the 2 years older brother Maurice, makes the line, “I would carry you around the world” sound true and you believe him just as Jo does. Playing their father Patrick Bruel has a shocking, stunning scene at the beginning that had some in the audience gasping while their loving mother Elsa Zylberstein wants to hope every child has a parent like her.

Whether it is Christian Clavier as the Jewish doctor or Coline Leciere as Francoise, Jo’s first crush or the numerous other actors all are believably taking you back to a time, place and story that is never diminished in the telling.

“A Bag of Marbles” is the story of the holocaust as seen through a child’s eyes and though it has ‘downer’ moments—how could it not?– it brings lightness to that world that doesn’t make what happened easier to digest or to make any sense.

It is based on a true story written by Joseph Joffo, the youngest boy, 30 years later so it is a history of a 10-year-old buy as seen through, remembered by him as a 40-year-old. Accept it on his terms and you will see an excellent film.



Movie trailer


Posted April 20, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

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