A standard-issue mezzobrow Holocaust melodrama of the sort you'd have thought Roberto Benigni had assassinated more than a decade ago, this popular French film centers on the notorious Vel' d'Hiv roundup, in which French police, under Nazi orders, arrested some 13,000 Jews in Paris and shipped them out to a succession of internment camps and, eventually, to Auschwitz. Mélanie Laurent is a stoic nurse, Sylvie Testud is a fated mom, Jean Reno is a large-hearted doctor, and around them swarm a central-casting platoon of stereotypes: blowsy village shopkeepers, earthy Jewish dads, nubile teens, blithe anti-Semite aristos, adorable tykes, sadistic guards, collaborationist rats, etc. Bosch's sophomore shot (after the odd sci-fi of Animal) is paradigmatically heavy on emotional-cue emphasis, nostalgia, and reaction-shot pathos, but the good intentions are patronizing; it's not as if by this point we need so much pandering effort expended to show us that Jews are human, too. (One of the handsome little Jew Buster Browns even throws marbles on the stairs to trip up the evil Germans. Ha!) Once the deportations begin, of course, the gears of anxiety begin to lock, greased mostly by our knowledge and not the film's eloquence. Treading on a shameful piece of French history, Bosch bizarrely intercuts scenes of Hitler, Himmler, and Hess working out the logistics of the exportations, in vignettes that smack of Inglourious Basterds farce, but otherwise, she's got a steady grip on the automatic tear-jerking if that's your awards-season cocktail.
Roselyne BoschMélanie Laurent, Jean Reno, Samuel Le Bihan, Gad Elmaleh, Sylvie Testud, Anne Brochet, Catherine Allégret, Isabelle Gélinas, Udo Schenk, Barnabás RétiRoselyne BoschIlan GoldmanMenemsha Films