The trailer above is spoken in French however all films in the French Film Festival will screen with English subtitles.
A Bag of Marbles had the same impact on me as The Diary of Anne Frank and Schlinder’s List. Firstly, they are all stories based on real life and, secondly, they all tear at the heart strings.
Set in France during the Second World War, A Bag of Marbles tells the story of two young Jewish brothers, Joseph and Mauric. After the Nazi occupation, they are forced to flee without their families. Stoic and courageous, they do everything to escape the Nazis. They are forced to lie, take on different identities and witness atrocities that no boys their age should ever have to face.
Adapted from an autobiographical book written by Joseph Joffo, the film is directed by Canadian filmmaker Christian Duguay.
It would be fair to say that this film moved me deeply for a number of reasons. Firstly, the performances of the two boys, Batiste Fluerial and Dorian Le Clech. Their characters develop from wide-eyed innocence to street-wise savvy. Le Clech, as the younger brother, is particularly accomplished. The scene when his older brother is sent to get documents to prove they are not Jews while he remains under guard and at risk of death is particularly memorable.
The boys’ parents, played by Patrick Bruel and Elsa Zyelberstein, complement their performances. The idea that two devoted parents have to allow the two youngest sons find their way to Nice by themselves in case the family as a whole are discovered, would cause any parents immense agony.
I was particularly impressed by the historical authenticity of this film. It is well researched and gritty. The score and cinematography accentuate the reality and mood of the film making it confronting viewing at times.
The end titles of the film contain a lot of information that starts where the film ends, plus a photograph of the two brothers who are still living.
Even you find the Nazi/Jew reality of World War II confronting, you still owe it to yourself to see how a family in crisis can survive against all odds, stunningly presented in A Bag of Marbles.
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 10