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A Radiant Girl to be screened at the Winnipeg International Film Festival on May 17 at 7 p.m. is a beautifully filmed worthwhile drama

by Jane Enkin May 2, 2022

 

The film A Radiant Girl, with its subtle, slowly building tension, is highly recommended.

 

Irene, played with moving precision by the lovely Rebecca Marder, is 19 years old, blooming, an aspiring actress, and enchanted by the idea of romance. 

 

We see her with her friends, fellow students at acting school, all preparing to audition for an important conservatory. Irene lives with her loving family, tender and teasing - father, grandmother and older brother. They enjoy themselves together, get on each other’s nerves, work and play.

 

But the year is 1942, France is occupied by the Nazis, and the family is Jewish. The children and grandmother try to ignore any changes – only the father pays attention to the outside world and tries to adjust. His decision is that they will comply with new regulations as they arise. The first moment of distress comes when the father insists that everyone submit their identity cards to be stamped “Jewish” in large red letters. He feels that obeying the rules will protect them – after all, they are French. The young people remain light-hearted, most of the time. Irene and her friends even joke about learning German.

 

Insidiously, delicately, writer-director Sandrine Kiberlain introduces the new restrictions that limit the family’s life. Dislike or at least discomfort about Jews is only shown through the behaviour of regular French people. The soundtrack of the film maintains the tension while Irene and her friends and family carry on with daily life.

 

The excellent ensemble cast creates rich characters. Each student is an interesting individual, and the father and brother are complex. Francoise Widhoff is especially mischievous, clever and sweet as Irene’s grandmother.

 

Beautifully filmed, at times hard to watch only because we care for these vulnerable people, A Radiant Girl is a worthwhile experience. I’m glad I saw it.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.