Film4: PREMIERE Wednesday 9 December, 1.20am
Saskia Rosendahl is Hannelore (nicknamed Lore), the indoctrinated daughter of an SS officer, headed north to her grandmother’s Hamburg home in the immediate chaotic aftermath of Hitler’s Berlin bunker downfall. Accompanying her on the trek across a ruined Germany are her four younger siblings, all abandoned by their mother in the Black Forest.
Following at a discreet distance is Kai Malina, a young Jew who’ll be of assistance to the children, much to Lore’s distaste. Devoted to Nazism, she’s a good Ayran girl completely out of her depth and adrift in a world she no longer comprehends. A curious postscript to the legacy of Downfall from Cate Shortland, the Australian director of the similarly dissonant if geographically different coming-of-age drama, Somersault.
That film introduced audiences to Abbie Cornish and Saskia Rosendahl likewise makes a strong impression here in a deeply unsympathetic role. Lyrical compositions in late-summer woodland glades seem a touch out of place in this context unless, of course, you’re identifying solely with Lore’s troubled state of mind. Which by picture’s end shows few signs of having learned any moral lessons. Mistakes will be repeated. How very human.