Lore, (Saskia Rosendahl) is a teenager and the oldest of her siblings including her sister Liesel (Nele Trebs) and 3 brothers, twins Jurgen (Mika Seidel) and Gunther (Andre Frid) and still breast feeding baby Peter (Nick Leander Holaschke). It is Lore’s job, after their father, Vati, (Hans-Jochen Wagner) a Nazi officer, is arrested and their mother Mutti (Ursina Lardi), an admirer of Hitler, voluntarily goes into an internment camp, to take the children to their grandmother’s home 500 miles away crossing mountains, forests, rivers and passing through American and Russian barriers. The mother gives Lore anything she feels her daughter could trade for safety and food from the house silverware to her wedding ring knowing that she will never see her children or husband again..
As Rodgers and Hammerstein so eloquently put it in a song many years ago, “You’ve Got To Be Taught” and Lore, along with her siblings, have been taught to hate all Jews and blame them for everything. As they travel they hear stories about Americans shooting prisoners and throwing them in graves and then producing pictures saying that they are Jews who were killed by Germans along with other atrocious tales that spins the truth on its head.
Along their journey the children cross paths with Thomas (Kai Malina), a few years older than Lore, who carries papers identifying him as Jewish though he looks nothing like the man in the photograph. We know very little about Thomas nor will we find out anything except that he goes out of his way to help the 5 children and, more than once, putting his own life on the line. The screenplay by Robin Mukherjee and Cate Shortland, the latter also directing, hit a false note trying to make more out of Lore and Thomas than really makes sense. The moment that Lore lashes out at Thomas with anti-semitic barbs does ring true.
The war has just ended, Hitler is dead and all that Lore has been taught to believe may not be true as she takes this journey across a land that shows little destruction as they go through outlying areas and forests.This is a film that comes from a different point of view and shows how innocent children become a part of the world they knew nothing about or dealt with because adults choose to go to war..
Saskia Rosendahl does an excellent job as Lore, a child that is hard to like yet is on her way to becoming an adult in a world that may tear her apart. Kai Malina is as stoic as an actor can be but still shows in small ways how war affects all. The rest of the cast all exist in a world that at the moment hasn’t any answers but are afraid of what the answers may bring.
The direction by Cate Shortland is almost a study in nature, both the good and bad, that surrounds humans but moves a little too slowly. “Lore” holds back too much information regarding Thomas and the grandmother that the children are looking forward to for their salvation hindering the story.