6 June 2013

Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes 2003
  • Director: Joseph Sargent
  • Based on book: by Gisella Perl
  • Cast: Christine Lahti, Bruce Davison, Jonathan Cake, Jessica Beitchman, Zoie Palmer, Beau Bridges
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christine Lahti – Smart People, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, My First Mister (director plus street scene extra), Leaving Normal, Running on Empty, Housekeeping, Swing Shift
    • Bruce Davison – X-men
    • Jonathan Cake – Extras, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Cold Lazarus
    • Beau Bridges – The Fabulous Baker Boys, Norma Rae, various old TV series
  • Why bought: Christine Lahti, history (WWII)
  • Seen: May 9, 2013 (appropriate date – 68 year anniversary of end of WWII in Europe)

The subject has always fascinated me – morbidly perhaps but World War II and the Holocaust are still close to us.  Christine Lahti is a superb actress and she really delivers here as Gisella Perl, a Hungarian doctor who survived Auschwitz. The movie is based on her book about how she later applied for US citizenship and had to defend herself for some of the things she had done in order to survive.  The film presents the story in a series of flashbacks, contrasting Perl’s charming bourgeois pre-war life with the hell of Auschwitz and the bustle of wealthy post-war New York.
Lahti is powerful but the film is just too pat. It does bring up important moral questions and Lahti manages to portray a somewhat complex character but most of the rest of the cast can’t do much with their cardboard characters.
For younger people who are just starting to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust it could be interesting and it does serve to show that nobody is a saint when forced into a dehumanizing situation. It’s worth seeing as part of keeping this dreadful part of 20th century history alive. Lest we forget.

2 ½ * of 5

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