2016 Blind Spot Series: Au Revoir Les Enfants


What I knew going in: Nothing. I didn't read the plot summary until right before the film started, and I picked it based on seeing it pop up on others' lists previously.

In 1944 France, Julien (Gaspard Manesse) is a young boy sent off to a Catholic boarding school during the war. He could somewhat be described as a "mama's boy." He wishes he could stay with her while his brother François (Stanislas Carré de Malberg) seems largely indifferent to being away. He's a bright kid who also tries to hide the fact that he occasionally wets the bed. But that's not the only thing he ends up hiding. A new student named Jean (Raphael Fejtö) shows up and becomes a bit of a rival to Julien. He's quiet, yet very bright and slightly  better in school than Julien. He soon learns a secret about Jean, and the two become friends.

To put in perspective how good this movie really is, let me tell you about the DVD Netflix sent me. It was terrible. It had a massive scratch in it, but since I'm cutting it close to the end of the month, I watched it anyways. The dialogue didn't always match up to the character's mouths, but that wasn't the issue. The DVD actually stopped in the last chapter. It would not play. I had to search the ending on youtube and use their closed caption translation function. And even with all that, the ending was still profoundly powerful. 

I'm just in awe of this movie. It's hard for kids to carry films, and you can tell Manesse and Fejtö were very green, but they make it all work. Their relationship progression felt natural. It's easy to think "not another movie set during WWII, but this doesn't even feel like that type of movie. It's instead a study on childhood friendships that mold Julien and Jean even during the horrors of war. 

And I'm always here for a teacher referring to a student who wrote an essay as "a bit pretentious." That made me laugh harder than it should've.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "Goodbye, children." - Father Père Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud)

12 comments:

  1. I really love this film!
    Nice review, you made me want to watch it again :)

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  2. I'm so glad you loved this film. It's one of my favorite movies of all time.

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  3. This is pretty much my favorite film by Louis Malle as I was just touched by the story as I think a lot of children need to see this. It is very powerful but without any kind of intentional sentimentality.

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  4. One of my all-time favorites from WAY back when. It was one of the first French films I ever saw (my Dad was a high school French teacher) and I feel instantly in love. I'm so glad you love it, too!

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    1. That's awesome that it's been one of your favorites for a long time!

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  5. Not sure how I missed this earlier in the year but I'm thrilled to see your score. LOVE THIS MOVIE! I've had a review written for over a year. Need to get it posted. Such a fabulous story and a great example of why I adore French cinema.

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    1. This was hands down my favorite of my 2016 Blind Spots, so haunting.

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