'Let's Go!': Film Review
Michael Verhoeven's drama based on Laura Waco's autobiographical novel concerns the troubled reunion between a young woman and her Holocaust survivor mother
German filmmaker Michael Verhoeven has long revealed a preoccupation with his country's past in such acclaimed films as The White Rose and The Nasty Girl. The trend continues with his adaptation of Laura Waco's autobiographical novel about her upbringing at the hands of her concentration camp survivor parents who made the decision to remain in Germany after the war. An insightful examination of German-Jewish identity, Let's Go! is also a probing family drama that well merits international arthouse exposure. Originally produced for German television, the film was recently showcased at the New York Jewish Film Festival.
Set in 1968, it concerns the return of 20-year-old Laura (Alice Dwyer) from America to her hometown of Munich to attend her father's (Milton Welsh) funeral. There she has a tense reunion with her mother (Karin Hanczewski) that is further complicated by the tragedy of her younger sister being in an irreversible coma as a result of a car accident.
Verhoeven's screenplay shifts back and forth in time between the modern day events and the two daughters' childhood years marked by their parents' complicated relationship with their native country. Ignoring their Jewish heritage to the point where they even open a restaurant in which pork is served, they cannot fully embrace their German nationality either, with the father severely critical of Laura's budding romance with a local boy.
The shadow of the Holocaust looms heavily over the proceedings, with the director/screenwriter handling the potentially incendiary material in his typically nuanced, thoughtful fashion. While the proceedings occasionally threaten to tip over into melodrama, the interpersonal dynamics, especially those that occur in the relatively present day with the arrival of Laura's aunt--also a survivor--from Israel, are movingly rendered.
Beautifully acted by its ensemble including Julia Niegel as the younger Laura, Let's Go!—the title refers to the father's constant exhortation to his daughters—is a sensitively wrought and provocative examination of emotionally resonant issues.
Production: Eikon Media GmbH, Sentana Filmproduktion
Cast: Karin Hanczewski, Alice Dwyer, Milton Welsh, Maxim Mehmet, Max von Thun, Lena Stolze
Director/screenwriter: Michael Verhoeven
Producers: Ernst Ludwig Ganzert, Mario Krebs, Lucia Staubach
Director of photography: Wolfgang Aichholzer
Production designer: Christian Kettler
Editor: Romy Schumann
Casting: Daniela Tolkien
No rating, 90 min.