Set in Germany, 1945, after the death of Hitler, Lore is a tale about loss of innocence against the backdrop of a colossal historic event. Leading the way is actress Saskia Rosendahl, playing the title character in Australian director Cate Shortland’s second feature after Somersault (2004).
When the death of Hitler has been announced and her mother has been incarcerated by Allied forces, Lore has no choice but to face the vast German countryside with her young siblings in order to reach the safe haven of her grandmother’s home. Along the way she faces starvation, poverty and a challenge to her ideals upon encountering a young Jew.
There is an almost Haneke-like air of oppression laced through the film, with long uncomfortable moments when the director keeps the audience suspended. Beneath the cold exterior, though, lies what is essentially a fairy tale structure where children must battle lurking malevolent forces. All well-conceived stories in this vein have good and evil, and Lore has both. Saskia Rosendahl’s performance is exemplary, and certainly one of the film’s greatest strengths. Her portrayal of a young girl trying to come to terms with herself and the disintegration of the nation she loves is outstanding. Also captivating are Lore’s siblings – their sense of urgency conveyed with touching gentleness.
It’s unusual for an Australian director to write and direct a film spoken entirely in German, but Lore is an eloquent, frank and visually beautiful film that will almost certainly put you through the emotional wringer. Wonderfully shot and featuring illustrious performances from just about everybody involved, Lore might just be one of the most engrossing cinematic experiences of the year.
Lore is on in cinemas nationwide now.
Watch the trailer for Lore here: