Au Revoir Les Enfants

Rustling through my computer the other day, I came across this very short review which was originally intended as part of a compilation review. Dispensing with the others, here are some brief thoughts on a Louis Malle classic.

Louis Malle’s Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987) is a war film without a war. Its central concept explores World War II through its interjections upon normality. Unfortunately all too often the film gets bogged down in boarding school cliché, dampening the effect of what should be a very powerful core narrative. The story begins by following Julien, a young outsider soon joined by Jean, a quiet new student. Strangely this new arrival is refused communion when he tries to take it and also rejects any pork products no matter how malnourished he is. Strange then that it takes the otherwise extremely intelligent Julien most of the movie to figure out that Jean is a Jew who is being hidden in the school by the monks.

Lacking in a knockout emotional punch and/or message; not being particularly enjoyable and not being a technical or stylistic masterpiece this film made little impact on me. What this film is is pretty average. It is a well made picture made by a man who has a reputation as a master director. But this film is just ok. And it does not do justice to its premise or its subject matter. A disappointment.

Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught

Progress: 65/1001

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7 responses

  1. I watched this in French class eons ago when I was all of fourteen so it had an emotional impact on me – don’t know how it would hold up all these years later though. Also watched “Le Retourne de Martine Guerre” (sp?) in French class.

    1. That was the funny thing for me, I knew it should have an emotional impact on me, but I just was not quite feeling it. Were you a fan of “Le Retourne de Martine Guerre”?

      1. I did enjoy it. It was very depressing though.

  2. I’m surprised this one didn’t work for you. I thought the ending was an emotional punch to the gut.

    1. Thanks for commenting man. That’s the strange thing about this film. I felt like it should really be a big emotional punch to the gut, but just fell flat for me. Who knows why, might have just been the mood I was in that day. Just didn’t hit as hard as it should’ve.

      1. I can see how the “wrong” mood could change the film for you, I know that has happened to me more than a few times. Do you think you’d give this one another shot?

      2. Perhaps. I’m really not sure. Thinking back, I think I actually saw it twice and felt a similar way about it both times. But there are external factors that effect how I feel about a film, as much as I try to minimise them. I was watching it for a uni course, so that may have impacted on it too. Perhaps I should give it a fresh look.

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