Review by John Delia, Sr.

In France during WWII the German occupation was mainly in the northern half of the country and in 1941, the Germans started to identify and arrest Jews in countries they occupied.  It was a very dark time for the French watching their fellow citizens being carted away. With the release of the film Farewell, Mr. Haffmann audiences are thrown into this pressure cooker of a movie that will give you some idea of how dangerous it was. The locations, sets and costuming play a big part as does the acting that’s spot on depiction. Totally immersive, the plot couldn’t have been more timely and compelling as it covers the helplessness of the French Jews that were having to make life or death choices.

Gilles Lellouche, and Nikolai Kinski in Farewell, Mr. Maffmann Menemsha Films

In a small town in Northern France, Joseph Haffmann (Daniel Auteuil) is a very reputable jeweler.  His designs are sought out by many of the wealthy French and Jewish villagers. Now occupied by Germans, the town has protection of all of its citizens by the original government that still has oversight. However, the German command won’t respect the deal and are now requiring a census of the people of the village. After seeing that the Jews are being rounded up by German police, Joseph, with the help of smugglers gets his wife and three children out of the village and on a dangerous path to Southern France where there is an unoccupied zone. Staying behind to avoid suspicion by neighbors, Joseph finds himself trapped in the cellar of his jeweler store.

The film proceeds from this point on with French villagers François Mercier (Gilles Lellouche) and his wife Blanche Mercier (Sara Giraudeau) trying to hide Joseph from the Germans after taking ownership of Haffmann’s Jewelry Store. Putting pressure coming from several different points and envisioning the probability of what the Jeweler and the French couple had to do to stay alive, writer and director Fred Cavayé puts together a heart pounding story. I like the way he inserts several incidents that put the Mercier’s in the middle of pivotal choices that make them vacillate on which side they are on.

Daniel Auteuil in Farewell, Mr. Haffmann from Menemsha Films

Even though some of the scenes are a bit dodge, the actors handle the critical ones with ease. Performances by Lellouche and Giraudeau are believable, especially when they are under pressure by the German Commandant (Nikolai Kinski) of the village. And speaking of Kinski, he’s one cagey and scary minded agitator that tries to manipulate Francois Mercier.

Farewell, Mr. Haffmann has been rated TV-14 for some offensive language and sexual inferences, most all of which could be handled well by mature teens. The film will be shown in select theaters around the county, so check your local listings for theaters and times. The motion picture has been winning many Audience Awards at and film festivals around the nation. 5 out of 5 stars.        

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