Published Sep 18, 2012Having demonstrated a knack for capturing the conflicting feelings of a young woman stuck between childhood fantasy and the responsibilities of a budding sexuality with Somersault, Australian director Cate Shortland delves into similar coming-of-age territory with the post-WWII drama Lore.
Again focused on a teen girl coming to terms with an imperfect world, this intense, often lyrical drama has the titular Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) towing her four younger siblings across a dismantled, turbulent Germany after her SS officer father and mother are taken into Allied custody.
Initially proud and confident in her worldly vision, Lore's journey across the country forces her to give up her dignity, pawning off family mementos for food and assistance. Challenging her worldview more directly is a Jewish man named Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), who goes out of his way to help her and her siblings, telling American soldiers that they too are Jewish.
While not ignoring the political landscape and implicit irony of German children fleeing from soldiers in 1945 Germany, Shortland's focus is primarily on the rapid maturation and forced introspection of Lore. Having to look at photos of dead Jews in exchange for food and learning to use her sexuality for favours amongst otherwise indifferent countryside farmers, she starts to question the ideals handed down to her by parents involved in atrocities beyond her comprehension.
But Shortland isn't keen on simplifying everything to mere allegory for a reiteration of the politically correct status quo. She also infuses confused, tenuous sexuality and a quiet rage into her teen protagonist, comparing a sexual attraction to a Jewish man, who, contextually, Lore has been taught to hate, to a sense of self-loathing and deviance.
Vacillating between naturalistic earth tones and melodic moments of reflection after key moments, this structurally flawed, but highly intelligent work manages to compare the horrors of WWII to the horrific implosion of childhood concepts once reality crashes down.
It's a ballsy contrast that makes this historical drama memorable. (Porchlight)