‘The Round Up’ (2010)

French Excuses For Collaborating

What happened in occupied Europe during World War II is a shelf load of cans of worms. I think some wag pointed out there were more people in the French resistance after the war than during it. I guess I am suspicious about a film  that purports to show that there were many good French people who sought to help the Jews during the Nazi occupation. As with the quip, it seems rather easy to side with the Jews in movies, 70years after the fact.

Call me a cynic, but I just don’t see that people rise to their most heroic en masse, only shortly after being beaten soundly in a real shooting war.

What’s Good About It

It’s a technically sound film. The craft is very good in this film. The performances are also solid and the kid actors are fabulous. There are some arresting shots and the CGI work is all very nicely done. You don’t see jagged bits of editing or sloppy bits of camera work, and it’s nice to see a film directed with at least a technically deft hand.

What’s Bad About It

I know it’s a weird kind of complaint, but the two kids who survive the Holocaust are exactly the two kids you care for the most. It seems incredibly pat and too much of a happy ending for a film with such a grave topic. Indeed, one could argue that it seeks to push the real mountainous tragedy aside and present a saving grace that is fictional and trivial. The problem in this instance is that it makes the rest of the entire narrative ring hollow and untrue.

It’s also a bad deal if you buy it on Bu Ray like I did. I bought it on Blu Ray because it came highly recommended, and I had to watch it for a project I’m working on. Now that I’ve seen it, I just don’t think it’s anywhere near as good or cool or interesting or tasteful or peculiar or amusing as the other movies I happen to own on Blu-Ray. Ownership of these things is daft to begin with, but this film feels like it’s actually subtracting from the sum total of my Blu Ray “collection”. And my so called “collection” even includes the Sam Worthington vehicle ‘Clash of the Titans’ (that film at least is peculiar).

What’s Interesting About It

I’d imagine that World War II just drops a dirty big pall of self-loathing on the French. If they were against Hitler, they made a very bad show of it and ended up being occupied.  If they were rightists, then they’re forever having to fight the tags of being collaborators. I imagine that it’s just simply too difficult to accept the abject failures of the 1930s French polity.

What therefore plays out in this film is a ferocious rearguard action to present the French citizenship of being humane and not anti-semitic at all. I’m not really sure the rest of the world can buy into this self-portrait of sorts. The stench of dishonesty is pretty nose-bending.

The Trouble With Casting Stars

The fabulous bit of eye candy in this film is Melanie Laurent who of course played Shosanna Dreyfus in ‘Inglorious Basterds’. Through out her character’s travails in this film, I kept thinking, “It’s no big deal. She goes on to kill Hitler in that cinema“.  Which is probably not the thought I should have been having. But then again I see Jean Reno, and I’m immediately thinking of Leon the Professional. It’s just a function of their careers, but if anything lent an air of casual absence of threat or danger, it was the fact that the baggage of these actors was simply too great. The film was entirely lacking in suspense when these actors were on screen.

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