Take 3: Au revoir les enfants Review + 165 & 170 Follower Thank You

At the beginning of the month, my blog received 165 followers! While I was figuring out which movie I would review, I was creating a new blogging schedule for myself. Several days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 170th follower! So, for this blog follower dedication review, I decided to write about one movie while acknowledging both milestones. I chose to talk about a French film called Au revoir les enfants! Foreign films are rarely talked about when it comes to these specific reviews. In fact, the first one I discussed was Vampyr last October. Au revoir les enfants has also been on my DVR since last February. So, I thought these reasons would be a good excuse to finally watch this film! While Vampyr is a French and German production, I have reviewed a French film on this blog before. For Clean Movie Month, I talked about the 1950 project, Les Enfants Terribles. Will my thoughts on Au revoir les enfants be similar to those on the aforementioned French film I reviewed last year? You’ll just have to read this post if you want to find the answer!

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I chose to use this poster for the review because it verifies that I, indeed, watched this film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Movies that have young actors make up the majority of the cast can be hit-or-miss. In the case of Au revoir les enfants, this aspect worked in the film’s favor! All of the young actors were not only allowed to act their age, but they were able to work alongside other actors within their age group. This made their performances feel genuine and realistic. Speaking of realism, I noticed that all of the character portrayals and the situations showcased in the movie appeared like it came directly from real-life. It gave these elements a sense of authenticity. Because this film is based on a true story, the creative team’s focus on making the characters and situations look and feel believable seemed to be taken very seriously.

The historical accuracy: This film takes place in early 1944. Because of this, all of the material elements of the project looked like it came directly from that period in time. The wardrobe of all the characters feature articles of clothing that one would likely find within the mid ‘40s. The architecture of the boarding school shows off the preserved interior and exterior style from an era gone by. Even the finer details of the picture, such as the books, feel like relics of that specific year. While watching this film, I noticed the way the characters spoke also reflected the time period. Whenever subjects related to World War II were brought up, it was done in a very subtle way. Even though this was a period film, I never felt like I was being talked down to or like the movie was treating itself like a history lesson. If anything, I felt like I was watching a moment in time.

The presentation of the subtitles: How the subtitles are presented in foreign films is very important. If they can be seen clearly, it allows the audience to better understand what the characters are saying. I liked how the subtitles were showcased in Au revoir les enfants! While all of the text was white, it was presented against backgrounds that were dark in hue. The very first scene in the movie is a great example of this. The station and train itself adopted colors of black and gray. None of the characters in this scene wore bright colors. Because of this creative decision, I never had a difficult time reading the subtitles.

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What I didn’t like the film:

A weak plot: The more movies I watch, the more I realize that “slice of life” stories aren’t my thing. That’s because I don’t find them to be as intriguing as other cinematic stories. That’s what the majority of Au revoir les enfants is: a “slice of life” story. To me, it didn’t contain as much interest as it could have. It felt like the screenwriter put so much emphasis on the premise of Julien and Jean’s relationship, that there was nothing else to offer in the narrative.

A somewhat mis-leading premise: In the synopsis I read for this movie, it said the film was about a Catholic boy and a Jewish boy becoming friends during World War II. However, the friendship aspect of their relationship isn’t portrayed until about the last twenty minutes of the film. Julien and Jean spend most of the movie apart than together. In fact, Julien starts off not liking Jean as a person. Julien does become nicer to Jean as the film progresses. When this does happen, it just makes them seem like acquaintances more than anything.

Situations being shown, but not explained: Throughout Au revoir les enfants, there are situations shown on screen that aren’t given explanations. One example is when Julien pokes his hand with a compass. As he is doing this, he tells the classmate sitting next to him how it doesn’t hurt. Not only was this action never explained, but it’s never referenced again in the movie. Julien’s action didn’t seem to serve a purpose for his character development or the overall narrative. Moments like this one happened at several times in the film and I found myself being frustrating by them.

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Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my final thoughts on this film, I want to thank each and every one of the followers! 18 Cinema Lane would not be the success it is today without you. Now, on to my overall impression of Au revoir les enfants! Personally, I thought it was just ok. The movie does have merits that are earned, as well as a plot twist that works. But the overall project could have been stronger. As I mentioned in my review, Au revoir les enfants is based on a true story. It felt like the creative team approached the narrative as respectfully as possible. Because the creation of the movie was handled with a sense of reverence, it allowed the film to have the emotional weight it contained. The realism of the acting and writing gave me a reason to stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing. I’m not often given opportunities to watch and review French films. However, I’m glad I chose this movie for my latest blog follower dedication review!

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

What are your thoughts on my review? Are there any French films you’d like to see me review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Friends Lead to Opportunities

Friendship has always played a huge role on When Calls the Heart. Sometimes, strangers and new individuals have gone on to become familiar faces and even favorite characters. While watching this episode, I noticed that friendship was an over-arching theme within this story. When Henry told Abigail about friends leading to opportunities, I realized that he had a good point. Without friends, there are so many experiences and memories that we would miss out on. Friends can also help us grow as individuals and become better people. In the show, the friends in Hope Valley have gone through a lot. But, in the end, they’ve acquired so many memories and opportunities along the way. Because of the friendships they gained over the course of the show, the characters on When Calls the Heart have evolved as time has gone by. Speaking of friends, let’s revisit our friends in Hope Valley in this week’s re-cap!

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart season 6 poster
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%206&episodeIndex=6001.

Season: 6

Episode: 3

Name: A Vote of Confidence

 

Major Story:

  • After hearing complaints from her neighbors about the saloon’s noise, Abigail approaches Lucas about the issue. She explains that the reason why people are upset about the noise is because, in the past, the saloon closed at 10 o’clock. Lucas tells Abigail that he will keep an eye on his business, especially during non-busy business days. The next day, the noise at the saloon is so loud, that it wakes up Cody. This causes Abigail to visit Lucas at the saloon. When she asks him why he went back on his word, he says that he’s doing exactly what he told her he would do. Because business was busy that night, it caused Lucas to keep the saloon open late. Fed up with this problem, Abigail decides to use her power as mayor to organize a town council meeting regarding this issue. When the meeting finally arrives, the townspeople have a chance to vote for a new business plan that requires all businesses to close at 10 o’clock. However, the vote ends up in a tie. As Abigail’s turn to vote comes up, she chooses to create a compromise with Lucas. She suggests that the saloon stay open late for only two days a week. Not only does Lucas accept this compromise, but this decision makes everyone involved, including Lucas, very happy.
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Minor Stories:

  • Toward the beginning of this episode, Bill goes to Cape Fullerton to testify against two deadly gun-men. However, once he arrives in Cape Fullerton, Bill discovers from the prosecutor that both gun-men have been recently released due to a lack of evidence. When Bill visits the judge, he learns that the judge was threatened by the gun-men, which caused him to release both criminals. Bill’s course of action is to visit his friend, Jeremiah, and ask for help in catching these criminals. When he arrives at Jeremiah’s house, Bill is met with skepticism and doubt from his friend. But, after some convincing, Jeremiah finally agrees to help Bill. During their journey to search for the gun-men, Jeremiah leads Bill to a short-cut, even though he claims he has never seen it himself. But he feels that this short-cut is through an abandoned mine. While in the mine, Jeremiah and Bill’s path is blocked and they become lost. As they search for a way out of the mine, Jeremiah shares with Bill about how he has been haunted by a past mission gone wrong. Bill reassures his friend that the criminal that escaped in the aforementioned mission was caught four months later. This reassurance gives Jeremiah the confidence to find their way out of the mine. Once they leave the mine, Bill and Jeremiah spot the two gun-men they were looking for. Bill decides to confront the criminals by himself, while Jeremiah stays by the mine. This plan proves to be a bad idea as a third gun-man suddenly emerges from the forest. Fourtunately, Jeremiah arrives just in time, knocking out the third gun-man in order to protect Bill. After this eventful confrontation, Jeremiah returns home and Bill brings the gun-men to prison.

 

  • After learning about explorers in school, Cody, Robert, and Timmy become interested in pirates. At recess, Cody and Robert pretend to be pirates looking for treasure. Timmy wants to join in on the fun, but gets stuck creating “waves” by throwing water at their make-shift boat. A few days later, at recess, Timmy brings his spy-glass to school and shows it to Robert and Cody. This not only excites them, but this allows Timmy to join their game. After school, Timmy discovers that his spy-glass is missing. When he asks Robert and Cody about the whereabouts of his prized possession, they say that they probably left it by their boat. This causes Timmy to look for the spy-glass all by himself. While riding her horse, Elizabeth sees Timmy searching for his spy-glass. As Timmy tells her his situation, she says that Cody and Robert should be helping him look for his spy-glass. She also gives him the advice to be honest with his friends and tell them how he feels. The next day, at recess, Timmy tells Cody and Robert how upset he is that they wouldn’t help him look for his spy-glass. He also says that all he wants is to be their friend. Moments later, Cody and Robert encourage their entire class to help Timmy look for his spy-glass.

 

  • Days after the saloon re-opening, Faith tells Rosemary exactly what Carson told her. Rosemary tells her that because certain words can mean a variety of things, she needs to make her feelings toward Carson clearer when addressing this matter. Meanwhile, at the saw mill, Carson tells Lee exactly what Faith told him at the saloon re-opening. Lee tells Carson that he needs to be more honest about his feelings toward Faith. As the days go on, both Faith and Carson make it clear that they want to honest with each other, but are not yet ready to address their feelings. Finally, Carson tells Faith exactly how he feels. However, Faith is afraid of starting a relationship with Carson, especially after hearing from Rosemary that relationships between two co-workers don’t always work out. A few days later, Carson tells Faith that they have to visit a patient during a house call. While on their way to the patient’s house, Faith finally shares her feelings about Carson to him. She also says that she wants to start relationship with him. After they kiss, Carson reveals that they weren’t going on a house call, but on a picnic instead.
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Some thoughts to consider:

  • When Elizabeth mentioned that she’d like to start a library, it seemed like this facility was just another establishment on When Calls the Heart’s growing list of places that have never been built or never been seen on-screen. As much as I’d like to finally see the Ice Cream Parlor in a future episode and Rosemary finally receive her theater, I’m not sure if the show has room in their budget to make these places a reality. While there have been changes in Hope Valley, we haven’t seen any new buildings arrive in the town. Also, is it just me or does that railroad that was promised last season seem almost nonexistent?

 

  • Personally, I didn’t like how the episode ended with Elizabeth’s class still looking for Timmy’s spy-glass. Ambiguous endings are something that I’m not a fan of. So, I hope that the spy-glass is referenced in the next episode.

 

  • During this episode, when it’s time for the mail call, Fiona discovers that a trunk has been sent to Lucas from San Francisco. I’m wondering what is in that trunk and who could have sent it to him? Hopefully these questions get answered in an upcoming episode.
Red sunset clouds over trees.
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How did you feel about this episode? What was your favorite story-line? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen