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Nine year old Jakob Beer (Robbie Kay) is devastated when sees his parents murdered by Nazi soldiers in Poland and his sister Bella abducted. He is found by Greek archaeologist Athos Rousson (Rade Sherbedgia) working at a Polish dig, who smuggles him out of Poland and hides him on the Greek island of Zakynthos. After the war, Athos and Jakob (Stephen Dillane) emigrate to Canada, where Jakob falls in love with Alex (Rosamund Pike). But he is still traumatized by the past and when he meets Michaela (Ayelet Zurer), he starts to live again.

Review by Louise Keller:
'I long for the loss of memory,' says Stephen Dillane's Jakob, who has long lived with the burden of loss. Memories, loss and love are at the heart of this melancholy and touching tale in which a man comes to terms with his past. Jeremy Podeswa's moving film (based on Anne Michael's novel) starts slowly as it flits from the present to the past. The story concentrates on Jakob's emotional state, describing his inability to marry his internal life with the external life of the real world, despite the warmth and love slowly comes to term with the ghosts that have possessed him.

In the opening scenes, we meet Robbie Kay's nine year old Jakob, as he watches soldiers kill his family. Rade Sherbedgia's kindly Greek archaeologist Athos becomes a badly neededfather figure, rescuing the young boy from Poland and taking him to Canada after some time on the Greek Island of Zakynthos. Athos has his own story of loss and in many ways he and Jakob rescue each other. 'When I feel things building up inside me I write; you will write too,' he tells Jakob, who begins to pen his thoughts and memories as a catharsis. His grief becomes an obsession ('Each time a memory slinks away, it takes more of me with it,'). But the life-loving, beautiful Alex (Rosamund Pike) who Jakob marries, does not understand the unresolved grief that has been bottling up inside, believing once his book has been written, he can move on and start a new beginning.

This is a film whose mood lingers. We are touched by the relationship between Athos and Jakob and when Jakob is introduced to the empathetic Michaela (Ayelet Zurer), he finds in her a soul mate to soothe his paining heart. Ed Stoppard's Ben, the young Jewish man who lives down the hall, is also important in Jakob's life and is another integral piece of the puzzle that forms Jakob's emotional journey. All the performances are good. Dillane's understatement, Pike's effervescence, Sherbedgia's sincerity and Zurer's heart all complement each other. The voice over narration at times takes us out of the film, but the final reel with its punchy climax more than makes up for it.

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(Canada/Greece, 2007)

CAST: Stephen Dillane, Rade Sherbedgia, Rosamund Pike, Ayelet Zurer

PRODUCER: Robert Lantos

DIRECTOR: Jeremy Podeswa

SCRIPT: Jeremy Podeswa (novel by Anne Michaels)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gregory Middleton

EDITOR: Wiebke von Carolsfeld

MUSIC: Nikos Kypourgos


RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 20, 2008 (limited release)

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