Film Connoisseur: Au Revoir Les Enfants

Here’s another foreign treat for everyone. Au Revoir Les Enfants, directed by French filmmaker Louis Malle and released in 1987, is about a Catholic all-boys boarding school in France during WWII. The students experience their normal routines of adolescence until a new student, Jean Bonnet played by Raphael Fejto, enlists into the roster. Initial rivals, Jean Bonnet slowly befriends the somewhat fragile protagonist, Julien Quentin played by Gaspard Manesse. Quentin realizes there is something quite odd about Bonnet. Bonnet comes from a place Quentin can’t understand and behaves in a manner Quentin can’t comprehend. As the two become close associates, Quentin discovers that Bonnet was invited to the school as a safe haven because he’s Jewish in a German occupied France.

The story is sentimental and the tension escalates after the discovery is made by the audience. You fear for the boy’s life as the students occassionally run into German soldiers on the hunt for Jewish stowaways. The pacing is slow like many French films but the film is filled with emotion and the musical elements are amazing. The film, in tone and track, reminds me of a dramatic lullaby. Check out the trailer below.

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