A loser’s history of World War II. Fifteen-year-old Lore and her three younger siblings have spent their lives in a happy dream of German supremacy. Now the dream is ending: files must be burned, valuables gathered, the family dog put down. Mama and Papa must go to prison. The kids must make their way across country to find refuge.What follows is an exploration of unmade civilization. Food, shelter, and hygiene become uncertain goods, and a boat ride across the river may carry a nasty cost. And bedrock convictions about what it means to be German and good (or Jewish and bad) are broken by blunt experience. Director Cate Shortland plays against the ugliness of events by giving us a Germany saturated in color and full of nature in soft focus. Here and there, the practice feels indulgent, even sentimental. But Shortland’s pacing is sure, and her story is satisfying. (2012) — Matthew Lickona
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