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La Rafle (The Roundup)

La Rafle

When approaching the ostracism and deportation of Jews during World War II, French filmmakers cushion their regret (collaboration with the Nazis) and defiance (French Resistance) in subtleties. With the blunt, evocative docudrama La Rafle, writer/director Rose Bosch rejects the guilt-soaked lyricism of Au revoir les enfants and investigative framework of Sarah’s Key. She goes directly to 1942 Paris, where 11-year-old Joseph Weismann (Hugo Leverdez) and his hardworking family reveal their joys and anxieties before being swept away in the roundup of Jews by French authorities. In the horrific conditions of the Velodrome d’Hiver (13,000 corralled into a bicycle racing stadium with little food, water, or sanitation), Protestant nurse Annette Monod (Mélanie Laurent) becomes an impassioned advocate for Jewish children, not realizing that the Vichy government has orchestrated their plight. Bosch doesn’t cloak history in memory, allowing events to unfold with a powerful immediacy, and she plainly delineates between villains and heroes (Hitler’s opulent mountain retreat is contrasted with the misery at the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp). La Rafle is a history lesson shot in the lush, classical style of polite period films, but Bosch’s vision is clearly black and white.

Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on November 16, 2012
Originally appeared in Indiewire.