Edited by Marco Cuevas-Hewitt
Director: Cate Shortland
Running Time: 109 minutes
Year of Release: 2012
Language: German (with English subtitles)
Lore is a coming-of-age story set in post-war Germany. Adapted from Rachel Sieffert’s novel, The Dark Room, Australian director Cate Shortland shows us a young girl navigating the tricky transition between adolescence and adulthood. However, this film sets itself apart from other coming-of-age films in that the protagonist, Lore, is removed from her sheltered upbringing and thrown into a trying environment that forces her to grow up very quickly. Lore’s core beliefs are challenged as she finds out the lengths she must go to in order to survive.
When Lore’s mother and father, ardent supporters of Hitler, decide to turn themselves into the authorities, Lore and her siblings are left to fend for themselves in a post-war environment that does not take to them too kindly. En route to their grandmother’s house to seek refuge during this turbulent period, Lore’s beliefs are tested in a transformative encounter with a young boy named Thomas.
Thomas is Jewish, and embodies everything that Lore was taught, by her parents, to detest. Their relationship is hostile at first, but when Thomas helps her and her siblings to alleviate suspicion from soldiers asking for their papers, her attitude towards him softens. Even though she remains hesitant about trusting him completely, as her parents’ prejudices are still firmly ingrained in her mind, Lore tries to accommodate this new perspective, while struggling with the idea that her parents’ ideals do not exactly align with her own. The dynamic between Lore and Thomas is an interesting one and the young actors, Saskia Rosendahl (Lore) and Kai Malina (Thomas) put on brave performances.
Rosendahl’s portrayal of Lore is excellent, capturing both her vulnerability, and maturity when she finds out what she must do to survive. There is a particularly tense moment in the film where Rosendahl shows us that even though Lore, as the oldest child of a large family, remains composed, and fiercely protective of her siblings, she can still be scared and impulsive. This allows us to sympathise with a character who, under immense pressure, occasionally makes rash decisions that seem entirely wrong or inappropriate.
The cinematography of the film is also a highlight. The film is incredibly immersive, and by using a minimalist colour palette of predominantly blue and green hues while showing close-ups of brutal images of the aftermath of the war, Shortland effectively conveys the harshness and vastness of the environment that Lore and her siblings had to navigate and the severity of the ordeal they had to endure.
I would recommend this film as the performances by the young cast are fantastic and Cate Shortland does a wonderful job of telling an engaging coming-of-age story.