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Review: One Day You'll Understand

Clumsy contrivance gives way to real tragedy
By PETER KEOUGH  |  July 22, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars


In 1987, as French television broadcasts the trial of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi "Butcher of Lyon," Victor Bastien (Hippolyte Girardot) is going through a related trial of his own. Whatever happened to the Russian-Jewish side of his family, and why doesn't his mother (Jeanne Moreau) ever talk about it?

Surrounded by piles of documents and fumbling with a briefcase, Victor searches for closure, driving himself and his family to distraction. It's not easy on the viewer, either, since veteran Israeli director Amos Gitai proves uncharacteristically stagy and inert in adapting the novel by Jérôme Clément.

His endless pans of people pacing in apartments come to a halt only when Victor touches some Proustian wallpaper to unleash a flashback montage of his grandparents' fate. That much is clumsy and contrived; it's when Victor's survivor mother takes her grandchildren to a Yom Kippur service and quietly tells them what she could not say to him that real tragedy fills the screen.

Related: W. gets a B, Why so serious?, The Secret Life of Bees, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , Trials, Klaus Barbie, Klaus Barbie,  More more >
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