Cate Shortland's Lore resembles a dark children's fable
Nine years on from her intoxicating road-movie debut, Somersault, Australian director Cate Shortland has fashioned a different kind of journey — this one set amid the winding trails of the Bavarian woods, circa 1945. There the five children of a captured Nazi officer flee toward what they hope is safety in the days immediately following Hitler's downfall. The title, Lore, is short for eldest daughter Hannalore (newcomer Saskia Rosendahl), but also suggestive of a dark fable, which Shortland's film resembles as the kids fend for themselves against various adult bogeymen (and -women, including a recent widow dripping in fresh black dye). Eventually, they join up with another mysterious drifter (the powerful Kai Malina), who may or may not be a wandering Jew. Based on a novel by British author Rachel Seiffert, Lore has a tendency to overstate its case; the point that there are victims on all sides of a war is made early and often. But as in Somersault, which introduced Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington to the world, Shortland draws fine work from her actors, particularly the haunting Rosendahl, who manages to seem by turns a perfectly unbending Nazi youth, a frightened little girl forced to grow up too quickly, and a sensuous young woman bursting into bloom.
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