As Nazi troops prepare to enter Paris, a widowed schoolteacher and her two young children flee into a world of fairy-tale fantasy in director Andre Techine's superbly crafted war-time romance. June 1940: Odile (Emmuelle Beart), whose husband was killed on the eastern front, has fled Paris with her 13-year-old son, Philippe (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), and 7-year-old daughter, Cathy. While trying to maneuver their car along narrow rural roads clogged with other refugees, they're attacked by German aircraft. In a panic, Philippe runs blindly toward the nearby woods, but he's stopped by a handsome young stranger (Gaspard Ulliel) who returns the boy to his mother and advises that they'd all be better off making a break for the countryside. He says his name is Yvan and that his parents were both killed in an air raid, and while he seems nice enough, Odile remains wary. Philippe, however, is immediately enthralled with the young man and, unbeknownst to Odile, uses his late father's watch to bribe Yvan into helping them to safety. After a night spent under the stars, Yvan leads them to a beautiful, apparently abandoned chateau. Yvan quickly scales the facade and smashes an upper window, but Odile will only agree to using the phone to call the police; when she finds that the lines are down, she prepares supper and tells the children that they'll leave in the morning. Yvan warns that all the nearby villages have been evacuated and the police are too busy clearing corpses to worry about a widow and her children. The following day Odile discovers that he's right; signs posted around the empty town warn that all looters risk the death penalty. Odile returns to the chateau and a romantic idyll that seems worlds removed from the war raging around them, and while she remains suspicious of Yvan, whom she knows is sneaking out at night and robbing the dead, Odile finds it increasingly hard to resist the young man's charms. No amount of fantasy, however, can keep the looming reality of the German occupation at bay. Long expert at unforgettable characterizations, Techine turns his talents toward creating an evocative sense of time and mood. In a house where the clocks have stopped and each day passes like a summer afternoon, Odile and her makeshift family become like the Finzi-Continis behind their garden wall: deceptively safe and daydreaming through their country's darkest hours.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: As Nazi troops prepare to enter Paris, a widowed schoolteacher and her two young children flee into a world of fairy-tale fantasy in director Andre Techine's superbly crafted war-time romance. June 1940: Odile (Emmuelle Beart), whose husband was killed on… (more)