There are plenty of Holocaust films available – some would say too many. I guess the human drama of the Holocaust makes for a very emotive subject that often translates well on to the screen. Fugitive Pieces however wouldn’t probably be placed in the Holocaust genre, mainly because it deals more with the emotional effects of the Holocaust rather than the Holocaust itself. In doing so however, it manages to produce a human dram with real emotional grunt, and ultimately a positive storyline.
The story flutters along a time line that starts when Jakob Beer is a little kid in Poland, to his present reality as a writer in Canada. Tearing between 4 main periods in Jakob’s life, we get to see the terrible beginning when German soldiers come into his house, where his parents have hidden him, kill his father and take his older sister and mother away.
Rescued by a compassionate Greek archaeologist and smuggled into Greece, Jakob is raised by his Greek saviour, Athos. Of course, we don’t find this out right away as the story is weaved in a fashion that keeps us hanging on each and every carefully constructed and wonderfully shot scene, watching in awe as the story is revealed like the blossoming of a spring flower.
Fugitive Pieces gets it’s name from the fragile state of Jakob who has seen what no child should ever witness, but worse, keeps trying to imagine what became of his sister. It plagues him through out his life, but with the gentle understanding and direction of Athos, he begins to write his thoughts in a journal. As he pieces his memories back together he realises what his lost sister wants him to do, and through this finds his redemption.
With an outstanding performance by Rade Serbedzija as Athos, the warm and friendly Greek who is central to Jakob’s new life, and immaculate film work, Anne Michaels’ novel is brought to life in stunning clarity, telling a story that not only reveals some of the horror of the Holocaust, but also shows us humanities even more immense ability to love, no matter the personal cost.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: [M] Contains violence and sex scenes.
Released on: September 17th, 2009
Stars: Rade Sherbedgia, Stephen Dillane, Rosamund Pike, Ayelet Zurer
Length (Minutes): 104
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Director: Podeswa, Jeremy