If all the films I've seen about World War Two were played back-to-back I shouldn't be surprised if they lasted very nearly as long as the conflict itself, and I'm more than a little weary of that being the pretext for yet another. In that mood of reluctance I took myself to see this latest which, admittedly, sounded a bit more interesting in that films dealing with what came immediately after the war had ended are really rare.
Hamburg, December 1946. - thus a few months after the Allied victory.
A British army colonel (Jason Clarke) is assigned to supervise the start of rebuilding the city from the rubble it was reduced to by allied bombing. He takes his wife (Keira Knightly) for them to reside in an undamaged mansion, currently occupied by a widowed German (Alexander Skarsgard) and his teenage daughter, plus a couple of female servants, the latter fully expecting to be turned out of their home to live in a camp. The meeting between the colonel and the German is formally polite enough but from the outset his wife puts on a scornful frostiness of not even acknowledging his presence.
From this opening scene it doesn't take much imagination to know how the story is going to develop.
A little way into the film we learn that its title is deceptive in not relating so much to the war itself as it does to a traumatic event which happened to the colonel and his wife a few years previous. A similar back story involves an experience of the German and his daughter, the latter in particular being hostile to these 'intruders'.
The colonel surprises his wife when he tells her that he's decided not to turn the German out with his dependants, but to let them stay and live in the upper section of the large house. She's not happy.
The story I found fairly predictable (though not entirely, I must aver), and with an ending so hackneyed and delivered so mawkishly I was hoping it just wouldn't 'do it' - but it did. If you like sentiment laid on thickly then this is for you!
As for the three actors at the centre of the story, Keira Knightly was as good as she always is, though I wasn't sure about Skarsgard who didn't seem very comfortable at all to my mind. However, I thought Jason Clarke as the colonel was the stand-out. Not a face I was familiar with but he was very convincing in a story which requires to be played out with absolute conviction.
Director James Kent (much TV work, less cinema feature experience) delivers in fairly matter-of-fact matter, with little exceptional enough to be retained in the memory. Still, the photography of this miserable Winter for the surviving Hamburgers is first-class throughout.
I don't think this film qualifies to be a genuine 'weepie' despite it being heavy on the overt sentiment. I do applaud it for the rare angle we see of the war's outcome, as well as for most of the acting. But I've got to hold back on any notion of a full-hearted recommendation.................5.5.
(IMDb.........6.4 / Rott. Toms.........awaited )
3 hours ago