Review: Lore (15)

Hitler’s suicide and the wider collapse of Nazi Germany is seen through a teenager’s eyes in Cate Shortland’s remarkable portrait of forced adulthood, tracing as it does the downfall of a twisted ideal through the eyes of one girl.

Lore is the eldest child of two diehard Nazis who, as their world comes crashing down, abandon everything they have ever known, including their kids.

“It is the end. He is gone,” says their hard-faced mother as she walks off into oblivion. Suddenly Lore is dragging the remnants of the family – four young children and a baby – across an increasingly hostile landscape towards their grandmother’s house.

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But what Shortland presents is the clash between the lie one lives in and the living of the lie. Lore (played by newcomer Saskia Rosendahl) has been fully indoctrinated into the way of National Socialism. So it’s a monumental shock when a fellow wanderer turns out to be a Jew. What’s more, whether she can admit it or not, Lore is drawn to him.

Their awkwardness is played out against a blasted landscape, familiar yet unfamiliar where everything has changed. Existence requires a dog-eat-dog mentality, something Lore and her siblings have never had to contemplate.

Their encounters are surreal and deadly. As news of Nazi atrocities begins to filter out, so Lore starts to understand the enormity of what engulfs them.

She steals a watch from a corpse to use as barter. They meet a mad old Nazi woman at a decaying farmhouse. And Thomas (Kai Malina), their benefactor, kills a man for a bucketful of eels.

As a tale of shattered ideals Lore is incredibly powerful. It underlines in personal terms how an entire nation was engulfed by a lie and how, as the truth dawned so the lie became ever bigger.

On limited release