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With Jim Sabatini

A Secret

A Secret
Quentin Dubuis, Mathieu Amalric, Valentin Vigourt, Patrick Bruel,
Cecile DeFrance, Robert Playnol, Ludivine Sagnier and Julie Depardieu

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 5, 2008 Released by: Strand Releasing

Another of a series of World War II dramas to come out also spans many decades, similar to The Reader which has a charged moral complexity to it. This one has its footing in the occupation of France by the Nazis.

Claude Miller's A Secret (in French, Yiddish and German with English subtitles) pivots off of Francois who gradually learns about his family's past. Quentin Dubuis first plays him at age 14, then Mathieu Amalric (A Christmas Tale, Quantum of Solace) at age 37, and also Valentin Vigourt at age 7.

Patrick Bruel and an athletic, pixie-coiffed Cecile De France play Francois's father and mother who haven't divulged much about their lives relative to the war to the boy with an imaginary brother. It includes relationships with a brother (Robert Plagnol) and sister (Ludivine Sagnier of A Girl Cut In Two) and the roots of their family tree. Francois has to deal with a lot (like the Michael Berg character in The Reader), feeling as though he wasn't able to please his loved ones.

Miller brings a stream-of-consciousness to the filmmaking, even if the narrative becomes convoluted before an arguably mawkish resolution. The fractured timeline shifts from a monochromatic current period to more vivid hues even prior to Francois's existence. One feels an energetic, sexual charge to the proceedings with notions of certitude, curiosity, and yearnings that are bolstered by biases in what seems to be a capricious lifestyle.

A Secret may not have the desired emotional fulcrum, yet their is a continuity through Francois with the impact wrought sharply by each of the actors, especially Amalric. The circumstances make for a haunting cinematic experience with Sagnier and Julie Depardieu (daughter of Gerard) effective as a tortured woman and masseuse family friend.

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