Lore (Day 43)


My Opinion: 9.2 || Impressive on every level — a great film.

DIRECTOR: Cate Shortland\
SCREENPLAY: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee
LANGUAGE: German | COUNTRY: Germany
YEAR: 2012
PROFILE: Historical Drama | 109 minutes | IMDb (7.3)

SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of IMDb): [Note: The available synopses for Lore all do a disservice to the film. This one is technically accurate, but it suggests a kind of schematic moralizing that the filmmakers consistently avoid.] As the Allies sweep across Germany, Lore leads her siblings on a journey that exposes them to the truth of their parents’ beliefs. An encounter with a mysterious refugee forces Lore to rely on a person she has always been taught to hate.

Strengths: There’s an impressionistic immediacy to Shortland’s direction and great moral integrity in her and Mukherjee’s vision for the film. (Credit must also go to the novel, which is by Rachel Seiffert.) Her technique delivers a powerful sense of time and place and also a vivid impression of the characters’ psychological reality. Shortland recognizes that ugliness can infiltrate even beautiful moments and that even awful experiences can touch on beauty, and her attention to that duality is one of the film’s many strengths.


Throughout the movie, we see events exclusively through Lore’s perspective. As a result, Shortland immerses us in her desperation and fortitude, as well as in her bigotry and ignorance. We of course know things that she doesn’t know, so the immersion is not total. But it’s as close as any film can bring us to seeing the world from a perspective that we would otherwise be inclined to ignore or dismiss.

In most films about World War II, we’re invited to feel separate and superior to the Nazis. But although Shortland couldn’t be more clear-eyed about Nazi Germany, her purpose is not to make the reassuringly easy point that Nazism bad. Her goal is larger and more valuable: She’s revealing that in different circumstances we might have been Nazis too. We’re no better or braver than Lore, just more fortunate, and her path to insight is beautiful because it’s crooked and because it’s hard.


Weaknesses: Hardly anything. But there are moments when the score becomes a tad heavy-handed — broadcasting emotions rather than accenting them. Never the maudlin or bombastic excess of so many Hollywood movies, just an occasional (and usually brief) overemphasis.

Best Moment: The conclusion is perfect. A trio of understated scenes that Shortland sets up beautifully (especially one concerning manners). No speech, no grand epiphany — just three simple, potent illustrations of Lore’s maturation.

File Under: World War II, refugees, the Holocaust, bigotry, coming of age, moral growth, impressionistic style, indoctrination