An unusual, constantly surprising post-WWII odyssey, this film may feel a bit thin and episodic, but it tells an evocative story with darkly moving emotion. Like her ravishingly disturbing 2004 feature debut Somersault, Australian director Shortland brings her considerable skills to a strikingly different genre, keeping the story finely focussed on the central character while reflecting the complexity of a perilous situation.

The story begins right after the fall of Hitler, as a family destroys everything that ties them to the Nazis. But officials come for the parents (Wagner and Lardi), leaving teenaged Lore (Rosendahl) in charge of her four young siblings (Trebs, Frid, Seidel and infant Holaschke). Their only option is to try to reach their grandmother (Hagen) near Hamburg, but they get no help from their neighbours because of the family's ties to the Fuhrer. And as they strike out on the road, they encounter horrific things they could never have imagined. They also meet Thomas (Malina), a young Jewish man who seems to be following them.

The film is structured in a series of encounters as Lore struggles to keep her siblings together. And we are repulsed along with her at what she learns about humanity along the way. Shortland and the fine young actress Rosendahl vividly portray Lore's intense emotion as her protected, pampered childhood takes such a sudden, shocking turn. And we can vividly see along with her that much of the menace comes from the men along the road. But in her mind, the Jews are even more dangerous, so since she has been conditioned to despise them, her interaction with Thomas is thoroughly intriguing. She doesn't want to be anywhere near him, but knows she needs him to survive.

Continue reading: Lore Review