- Goodbye, Children review by CP Customer
Louise Malle has provided controversy and debate for decades (Pretty Baby anyone?)and I hesitated when deciding whether to watch this semi-autobiographical tale. A narrative involving children , Nazis , catholicism and truth would surely be gruelling experience.
It is credit to Malle and his deft handling of the characters that mean this is surely his finest work. The film is set in a French boarding school run by priests and it is orientated around the boys' viewpoints and emotions. Our central character Gaspard (played by Julien Quentin in a heartbreaking performance) is an intelligent student who clearly misses his homelife. It is nearing the end of WW2 and we see Gaspard struggle to come to terms with the idea of war and anti-semitism. The themes of innocence and youth are subtly conveyed by Malle and we get a real sense of authorial viewpoint. The boy is Malle.
Gaspard's life and the life of many of the boys is changed with the arrival of Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto) - a similarly intelligent student who captivates Gaspard. The new arrival is clearly not all that he appears. The two boys share a secret which could end tragically.
"Au revoir.." could be sentimental and cloying in lesser hands but Malle's truthfulness lends it a lighter touch. This is a warm, memorable experience in which the sense of foreboding is finely balanced with the joy of childhood. This isn't "The Sound of Music" though many of the themes resonate. I shall be seeking out the rest of the Louis Malle collection as I have witnessed a master at the top of his game.
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
Touching account of a wartime childhood
- Goodbye, Children review by Pete W
Unlike a previous reviewer, I felt that the performance of the two boys in the major roles was outstanding. The development of the relationship between them, from enemies to friends who share a dangerous secret, is very well handled. The film confronts but does not necessarily judge the reality of French collaboration with the Nazis.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.