Rondo -- Film Review



Pusan International Film Festival: Flash Forward, World Premiere

BUSAN, South Korea -- The Nazi occupation of Europe is a recurring subject in cinema and "Rondo"manages to bring slightly fresh perspective by combining nationalist expansion with religious uncertainty as experienced by a young man. But "Rondo" is fundamentally an impeccably produced television feature, both stylistically and narratively, and its future looks brightest in that arena. Limited theatrical release may work in Europe where material is more directly relevant.

In Nazi-occupied Belgium in 1942, Jewish teenager Simon (Julien Frison) is shipped to England by a resistance group after his father is arrested and his mother and sisters disappear. Staying with his domineering grandfather Abraham (Jean-Pierre Mareille) changes Simon's perspective on faith, resurrection, and the unshakable Jewish belief that God would never abandon them.

Simon goes home three years later and has his beliefs tested by the fact that his father is still missing. A final, hopeful grace note concludes the film, when Simon and his family find his name on a list of "evacuated" survivors in the town square and it appears as if Abraham's negative influence may be mitigated.

Writer-director Olivier Van Malderghem weaves in archival footage that moves the timeline along efficiently, leaving him plenty of space to develop Simon's burgeoning and Abraham's full-on disillusionment, but even strong performances by Frison and Mareille can't shake that TV vibe and the vaguely watered-down exploration of the issues so often associated with the so-called boob tube.

A Saga Film production

Director: Olivier Van Malderghem
Writer: Olivier Van Malderghem
Producer: Hubert Toint
Executive producer: Jean-Jacques Neira, Christophe Mazodier
Director of photography: Pierre Gordower
Production designer: Emmanuelle Batz; Costume designer: Nathalie Leborgne
Co-producer: Arlette Zylberberg; Music: Alexei Aigui; Editor: Elisa Cosse.
Cast: Julien Frison; Jean-Pierre Mareille; Aurore Clement; Marine Kobakhidze; Agathe Natanson; Claire Vernet
MPAA rating: Not rated, running time 85 minutes.