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Directed and Co-Written by Julie Gavras
Adapted from the book by Domitilla Calamai
Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


DVD of this film available from

DVD of this film available from
Write Dope on Pnuk part 55

This film is about a young girl in France of the early seventies witnessing the radicalisation of her parents. And I was all set not to like it. The film starts with Anna at an aunt's wedding, she is teaching other children how to eat fruit with a knife and fork. She is visibly unhappy with the prospect of another aunt (her Spanish father's sister) and cousin coming to stay. Her father tries to explain that an uncle has been executed by Franco, but Anna is still not happy with the visitors.

Feeling guilty for doing little aginst Franco, while his brother-in-law sacrificed his life, the father downsizes and takes his wife to Chile to support Allende. He returns with a beard and the daughter is mortified, the Cuban housekeeper having explained Communism to a horrified Anna. The mother starts to work on a book investigating abortion, at that time illegal in France.

When interviewed, the director admitted she added the Chilian element of the film because when she was twelve her father had made a film about Chile that was the first of his she had understood. Her father, Costa-Gavras, was the son of a Russian father and a Greek mother, and this Russian had fought for the Greek Resistance during World War 2. Many of Costa-Gavras films starred Yves Montand, and were some of the most political cinema from the mid sixties onwards.

As the Communists started to fill her house, I started to warm to Anna (played by the brilliant Nina Kervel), who doesn't want these changes. Forbidden Divinity classes at her convent school, she starts to discover mythologies from around the world. When abandoned by parents when a demonstration turns into a riot, she learns that if she can question them, she can question anything. There comes a brilliant section where she once again demonstrates the correct way to eat fruit, this time to astonished Communists.

The film ends with Anna, on her way to a more normal school (she had got into an argument with a nun over whether a goat should stay a farm animal or strive for freedom, even if it means being eaten by a wolf) comforting her father as the TV shows the coup against Allende.


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