Film review: LORE from Built For Speed

Lore is an Australian-German co-production directed by Cate Shortland who burst onto the scene in 2004 with her debut feature Somersault.

Shot in Germany and spoken almost entirely in German, Lore is based on one of the stories from the Rachel Seiffert novel The Dark Room.  The film is set in Germany in 1945 just as the Nazi regime is collapsing and the US and Soviets are starting to carve up the spoils.  Caught in the middle is the title character (Saskia Rosendahl in her screen debut), a morose teenage girl still in the thrall of the Nazis who, along with her young siblings, must make a dangerous odyssey through the Black Forest to the apparent sanctuary of her grandmother’s. The journey presents not only physical challenges but moral as well as the group seek help from a young Jewish man whose people they have been taught to despise.

Through its focus on children the film exposes the roots of indoctrination, the corruption of innocence and the painful but necessary healing process that follows hideous events such as war.

With Lore, Shortland again shows she is an idiosyncratic filmmaker with a style that’s often mesmerising but sometimes irritating.  Here even more so than in Somersault, she favours fragmented dream-like images over conventional narrative storytelling. Consequently, Lore is full of ethereal cloud formations, waving fields of tall grass and water dripping in slow motion.  This certainly creates an intense atmosphere but may test the patience of those who want story momentum.  Also, Shortland uses a lot of intimate close-ups filmed with a wobbly hand-held camera which may induce a feeling like sea sickness for anyone sitting close to the screen.

Still, this film leaves us with many indelible images not the least of which are the Terence Malick-like scenes of people communing with nature as it reclaims the earth from a fallen empire.

Like Somersault, Lore focuses on an emotionally repressed young female struggling to articulate her feelings and expressing herself in a confused sexual way.  As with Abby Cornish in Somersault, Saskia Rosendahl does a memorable job of capturing this strange, conflicted character. In fact, performances throughout from the young cast are excellent.

Lore is not for all tastes but for those willing to make the journey, this is a disturbing view of the aftermath of war and a world trying to heal itself.  Deservingly, Lore has been selected as Australia’s entrant for possible nomination in the best foreign language Oscar category.


Nick’s rating: Three and a half stars.

Classification: MA 15+

Director(s): Cate Shortland.

Release date: 20th September 2012.

Running time: 109 mins.

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