This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 9th June 2013
Not “just another WWII film”, Remembrance tells a tale that will have you enthralled from beginning to end.
Focusing on the human, rather than martial, aspects of war, the story follows a young couple, Tomasz and Hannah, who meet and fall in love in a concentration camp in Poland in 1944. He is a Pole given various responsibilities by the ruling Reich, though still marked out by his striped pyjamas as he wanders the grounds. She is a Jew, half-starved and brutalised in menial jobs. Against all odds, they strive to be together.
Flitting ahead several decades, we see Dagmar Manzel as the grown-up Hannah, living a life of freedom and luxury in New York City in the 1970s. Happily married and a mother, she sees something on television that brings her past jarringly into focus.
The object of Hannah’s investigations is slowly revealed to us in flashbacks and forwards, and the film is all the more enriching for holding things back. Life in a concentration camp has been rendered on film many times before, but with beautiful, intimate performances from Alice Dwyer and Mateusz Damiecki, Hannah and Tomasz’ attempt at a life still feels fresh and urgent.