Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. Canada/Greece, 2007. Cinegram, Serendipity Point Films, Strada Films, The Harold Greenberg Fund. Screenplay by Jeremy Podeswa, based on the novel by Anne Michaels. Cinematography by Gregory Middleton. Produced by Robert Lantos. Music by Nikos Kypourgos. Production Design by Matthew Davies. Costume Design by Anne Dixon. Film Editing by Wiebke von Carolsfeld. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
Jakob, the sole survivor of a Jewish family in Nazi-occupied Poland, is found freezing in the forest outside his village by a visiting Greek archaeologist (Rade Serbedzija). The little boy is taken back to Greece where he spends some months until the war is over and his guardian is invited to teach at the University Of Toronto. Grown up and pursuing his own career in the arts, Jakob (played as an adult by Stephen Dillane) is haunted by the memory of his sister, whose outcome was the only one of his family’s that he never learned. Her memory is at the centre of an obsession that destroys his first serious relationship (with Rosamund Pike) before he finally returns to the island in Greece where he recuperated as a boy and faces some of his inner demons. This deeply emotionally film, adapted from the poetic novel by Anne Michaels, is expertly directed by Jeremy Podeswa, who handles the fractured narrative with great skill while never letting the overly moving aspects of the story ever become sentimental or silly. The end result of all these small story arcs is a conclusion that takes too long to finally wrap up, but overall it’s a beautiful film. It’s also a Canadian co-production (with Greece), which of course means bad lighting (even of the Greek islands, leave it to a Canadian filmmaker to find all the deepest shadows in Mitilini.)