The sadness of the film is something that is discussed in every featurette and every interview you’ll see with the filmmakers, but I’m going to avoid divulging any spoilers. However, the sad tone of the film is what drives the story and as it turns out, is what prevents the film from ever taking off. While I was watching this, I felt that the filmmakers sacrificed story development to get to the next sad scene and ultimately, that stopped me from ever getting emotionally involved enough with the characters to truly care about their fates.
We also have the issue of this being another in a long line of recent holocaust movies. The horror of the holocaust is starting to become numb on mainstream America because we’ve seen it so many times in so many movies. So when the sadness of the holocaust is a big part of your film, you have to accept that you’re not going to grab the audience. A holocaust movie has to have characters you care about and they have to have some sort of resolution or achievement at the end in order to legitimize the struggles you’ve put them through. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending (it almost shouldn’t be), but it has to be resolved.
I usually don’t mind if foreigners speak English in a movie, but in this case, I found the British accents to be a bit distracting. Much like the mixed accents in VALKYRIE, the British accents in this took away from the story and created a weird visual to audio reference. Mainly, we’re watching German soldiers that look and sound British. The little boy in the film did a fine job, as did Vera Farmiga, but everyone else just went through the motions. Overall, it made for an average film that relied too heavily on the fact it was depressing.
Deleted Scenes (6:19): These weren’t that bad, actually. All of them focused on the boy and his German life and friends. They furthered the overall message of the film, but they were short enough that their deletion didn’t affect the overall story.
Friendship Beyond the Fence (20:29): This is a typical making of featurette with interviews and comments from the cast and crew. I prefer to see making of featurettes focus on the making of the film and not opinions of the filmmakers, but this one does it’s job of telling you about the film.
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