Au Revoir, les Enfants (1987)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, War Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 12, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Matthew Doberman

Au Revoir, Les Enfants accepts the weighty challenge of making a Holocaust movie and acquits itself proudly. This was Louis Malle's first French film in a decade, and one gets the sense that it's a story he long felt compelled to bring to the screen. He based Au Revoir, Les Enfants on his own experiences in a Catholic boarding school in World War II and his remembrances of the frequent cowardice, and occasional defiant bravery, of the occupied French. This is not the world of Eastern Europe's constant horrors or England's interminable blitz, but an equally surreal place, where day-to-day life ostensibly continues as normal when the reality is anything but. The film does not explore the violence of the Holocaust directly; rather, it follows the somewhat uneventful lives of two boys who are, above all, just boys. They are children -- wide-eyed, curious, scared, kind, and spiteful -- like children everywhere, except unwitting parties to history's greatest drama. In this respect, the finale -- and in turn, the lasting impact -- of Malle's subtle, measured story is all the more devastating.