Opening 24 Nov 2011
Jewish Hannah and Polish Tomasz (a political prisoner) steal kisses in a German concentration camp in 1944 Poland. Their romance goes beyond kisses, and Hannah is pregnant. Love overcomes all barriers and they escape with Tomasz wearing a stolen SS uniform and impersonating a German officer with a captive (just like Moritz Bleitreu in My Best Enemy). Their escape seems tenuous as they run through the snow, laugh out of pure nervous tension, seek a change of clothing in a farm house, hide, etc. Eventually, they arrive at the home of Tomasz’ mother. She is happy to see her long-lost son, but, being Catholic, is hostile towards anyone Jewish. Hannah has a miscarriage; Tomasz moves her into his brother’s house to live with the sister-in-law. The brother, Czeslaw, has joined the resistance and Tomasz soon follows. Later Czeslaw returns without Tomasz. The Russians swoop into the neighborhood and collect the whole family except Hannah, who hides. She never sees any of them again. We fast-forward to Brooklyn, New York, 32 years later in 1976. Hannah has spent years asking different organizations to trace her long-lost love, to no avail. She lives in relative comfort with her nice, but unknowning, American husband Daniel and their grown daughter, Rebecca. Naturally, that’s not the end of the story. Hannah believes that she recognizes Tomasz in a television interview and sets the wheels of the search engine into motion once again.
This is based on a true story, and why not: stranger things have happened in real life. Dagmar Manzel and Alice Dwyer share the limelight as they play old and young Hannah, respectively. German director Anna Justice deserves attention for this film, as well as for her past films such as Max Minsky und ich. She definitely has a promising future. Contrary to many films about World War II and concentration camps, this one does not dwell on Nazi atrocities, but shows different layers of human behavior in challenging circumstances. It is a film about human beings, their weaknesses and sorrows. (Becky Tan)