It’s not exactly an enviable task; to make a Hitler Youth member and daughter of an SS Officer a sympathetic figure, but it’s to director Cate Shortland’s credit that she manages it without causing the viewer too much of a moral dilemma.
She’s helped of course by two things; a powerful and committed central performance from Saskia Rosendahl as the titular Lore and an engrossing plot which sees her accompanying her younger siblings across Germany on a mission to meet up with her grandmother now her parents have abandoned her.
It’s on this journey that Lore’s faith in and devotion to both the Fuhrer and the Cause is called into question when she meets the quietly aggressive Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina) and has no choice but to accept help from what she perceives as her enemy – a Jew.
Adapted from Rachel Seiffert’s ‘The Dark Room’, Lore manages to fuse together both the survivalist genre, engaging the heart, while exploring the tensions existing within a defeated Germany and stimulating some introspective discussion – working out just who the enemy is emerges as a key question in Shortland’s film.
So while Lore stumbles across, and deals remarkably well with, all kinds of troubles along her way, we’re treated to some beautiful cinematography which lends the dense Black Forest a Brothers Grimm-esque sense of danger. And while Rosendahl deserves the plaudits for her central performance, Malina manages to make Thomas a more complex character than at first appears, courtesy of a third act revelation.
However this is very much Rosendahl’s film, culminating in a sequence which suggest that both the actress and the character have got plenty of life and fight in them yet.