A Bag of Marbles
2017 (Not Rated) 110 min. France/subtitles
Director: Christian Duguay
Cast: Dorian Le Clech, Batyste Fleurial, Patrick Bruel
This heartwarming adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s enduring memoir tells the story of the Nazi occupation through the eyes of two young Jewish boys struggling to survive on their own. Paris, 1941: Joseph and Maurice are the sons of Roman, the local barber. At 10 and 12, the boys have so little understanding of the persecution of Jews that Joseph thinks nothing of swapping his yellow star for a bag of marbles. Despite their naiveté, Roman knows that their best chance to escape the Nazi roundup is to flee on their own to Vichy, France, where their older brothers Albert and Henri have found safe haven. Always one false move from tragedy, these tenacious urchins survive on courage, ingenuity and more than a bit of cunning as they make their precarious way through France hoping to reunite with their family. More than anything, it’s their brotherly bond that gets them through their ordeals. Patrick Bruel resonates as the Jewish family patriarch Roman, while newcomers Dorian Le Clech and Batyste Fleurial register an almost agonizing vulnerability as hapless innocents trying to outrun the barbarous machinery of war.
“The writing and its attendant characterizations have an undeniable integrity, the particular historical detail offered by the story is not common in films about this era, and the lead performers are moving.” – Glenn Kenny, NEW YORK TIMES
“This isn’t the first film to try to deal with the horrors of the Holocaust from a child’s perspective, but it’s tricky material, and this one succeeds because it is direct and forthright.” – Walter V. Addiego, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“The great value of Christian Duguay’s film is the degree to which it makes such a barbaric and bewildering chapter in human history comprehensible for young audiences.” – Matt Fagerholm, ROGEREBERT.COM