5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
ALMOST PEACEFUL is a film I stumbled upon and one I soon discovered a film with a simplicity that is moving. It tells the story of a small group of people working in a tailor shop in Paris after World War II. Most are Jewish and each had a different experience during the war from being a member of the resistance to suffering in the concentration camps. We meet a wide array of characters ranging form early adulthood to close to late in life: two younger men who escaped when a French police officer attempted to turn him over to the Nazis, and another who longs for love but seems afraid to experience it so he spends time with a call girl who falls in love with him. We feel for the man who waits for his family to return knowing it will never happen. A woman who steels soap but has a true passion for creating love matches adds a bit of humor. All the characters are connected through husband and wife who stay together and seem to be a happy couple but secretly love someone else.
The title of the film is perfect. There is a sense that the war is over and life will return to some kind of normalcy, perhaps even be better. Yet there is also an uneasiness. While there is a slight toleration of Jews in France in 1946, everyone knows it will not last. The only guarantee of any happiness will be in the community the group forms, and somehow we know it will happen.
The film is enjoyable because of its delightful characters, and in some ways it is a film that could be called more a character sketch than a story. It gives the viewer a glimpse of life that in 1946 is all but forgotten and reminds us of both the scars that were a part of the aftermath of World War II and also the faint hope that was real as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
'Un monde presque paisible' (Almost Peaceful) is a touching little film that keeps its story so quietly gentle that the effect is genuinely memorable. Director and screenwriter Michel Deville based this engrossing movie on a novel by Robert Bober: it is a unique vision and sharing of how Jews recovered from WW II.
Set in 1946 in Paris, the owner of a tailoring business seeks out Jews who have either returned from the camps or have been in hiding, or were part of the Resistance, who by luck escaped the fate of so many others, or were outcast otherwise during the horrors of WW II and offers them employment and emotional support. These are healthy people physically: emotionally the damage is deep and requires tender nurturing to start the road to health. The story unfolds slowly and allows us to witness the means by which each of these victims help each other heal and regain self confidence and learn to live in a world without the fear of extermination. The movement of the story is one of emerging trust and the director and actors each bring to the concept a fine sense of history and of the manner in which fellowman can coexist with a little help from their friends.
The cast is uniformly excellent and the atmospheric cinematography by Andre Diot is stunningly beautiful and reminiscent of the post war France period. The musical score is solely dependent on string quartets and matches the intimacy of the message of the film. In French with English subtitles. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, July 06
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In the film, Almost Peaceful by Michel Deville, we saw how different Jewish Parisians attempted to restart their lives and seek happiness after World War II. These people tried to move on in their lives, while still remembering their experiences from the Holocaust.
Albert, who is a character in the movie, was the tailing shop owner. When he was in a concentration camp, he mentioned that he would make a plan of how he would work out his tailoring. After the Holocaust, not only did he re-open his shop, but he also kept the people over there working effortlessly. Albert bought a painting from Madame Sarah only because he wanted to show his future generations what it was like back in the Holocaust. Albert and his wife Lea sent their two children to summer camps so they could lead a normal life as well.
A second example from the movie is the character Leon. He has a wife, Jacqueline, and she is pregnant with their second child. This shows that they are also moving on in their lives. Leon jokes around all the time with everyone at the tailor shop and is a great actor as well. Leon had lost many of his family members in the Holocaust and now he has the desire to have a big family. For example, when Jacqueline gives birth to their second child, Leon gets excited about his family photo (with future generations).
The third character that is trying to rekindle his capacity for happiness is Maurice. He is a very lonely man who seeks a prostitute, named Simone, to fill his sexual desires. Maurice goes to only her each time and this shows that he is looking for comfort and the warmth to get rid of his loneliness. As the movie goes on, Maurice becomes more open to Simone. For example, he took her to a coffee shop and he told her about his past life. Gradually, Maurice's relationship with Simone gets stronger and he finally expresses his feelings and all the sadness in his heart.
A last example would be the character Joseph. When he was small, his parents got arrested and he ran away. His parents didn't want to catch any attention so they didn't look back at him. Joseph went to an interview and he met the man who arrested his parents. However, Joseph wasn't scared; in fact he confronted the man. Even though Joseph felt sad about being separated from his parents, he felt happy deep inside because his parents let him free. Joseph just ran and didn't look back. Joseph tells the man that he will become a writer and write about his experience. This shows that he is ambitious to follow his dreams and brave enough to write his experience, even if it means recalling the painful truth.
The four characters Joseph, Leon, Albert, and Maurice, from the movie Almost Peaceful, try to restart their lives in different ways. Their objective wasn't to forget what happened to them during the Holocaust; they wanted to keep that in mind so that they could gather the courage to move on. After all, one's strength is more visible after they have tolerated more.
by Mawra Malik
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
European cinema can be a startling experience for U.S. viewers. In "Almost Peaceful" we seem to drop into the lives of the characters, flow with them for some time, and then drop out at the end of the film. Even in this serious/comic film, there seemed to be little build. That said, Simon Abkarian who played so well with Joan Allen in "Yes" is a Jewish tailor trying to start up his shop and rebuild his life after World War II's Hitler era. He employs a group of Jews who are also trying to rebuild their lives. His relationship with his wife Lea played by Zabou Breitman appears passionless and uninspired. They keep reading letters from their children received from camp. Lea has a crush on Charles, played by Denis Podalydes with such sadness as he longs for his family who apparently died in the camps. Vincent Elbaz plays a tailor and actor who has high energy and love of life, as he and his wife celebrate the birth of a second son. Stanislas Merhar plays the young tailor Maurice who has difficulty with romantic commitment and frequents a prostitute. Malik Zidi gives a good performance as the young tailor Joseph who the others help by continually re-doing his work as he puts buttons on the wrong side and other mistakes. Joseph eventually decides to work in the camp with children and the film ends. Michel Deville won the French Academy of Cinema's Best Director award in 1985 for "Peril en la Demeure." "Almost Peaceful" is an interesting peace, frequently moving, but one that from time to time left me wondering what was happening in the story. For instance, there is one fairytale sequence about a boy in a forest who breathes through a button in his neck. I'm not sure why. The film appears to be the characters' journey to find joy in the wake of profound tragedy. Enjoy!
- Published on Amazon.com
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." In the movie, Almost Peaceful by Michel Deville, many Jewish Parisians face the difficulties of restarting their lives after the Second World War. Without a choice, they must learn to live a new life and forget the old. The only thing holding them back is the memory of the life they once had and the painful memory of the war. Throughout the movie, we learn of the dark memories many of the characters faced and try with the best of their ability to look towards the future rather than the past. These characters vary from age, but their memories are as painful as on another's.
The most important scene in the movie revolves around Albert's workshop. It is where the characters talk and laugh about life and where they share their painful memories. Mister Albert is a tailor who does to the best of his ability to help those in need. As the movie begins, he hires a staff of mostly Jews, in order to help them get on their feet financially. As the movie professes, he buys a painting, in which a lonely man is wandering by himself through snow holding only his valued possession, his cello. To Mister Albert, it is a symbol of hardship and hope in which he wants to pass down to future generations so that they will never forget the pains of their ancestors. Having a part of his life taken away from him, he hopes that his children will accomplish more in their lives so that they wouldn't have the poor reputation of being tailors. As he works day by day, he slowly sees the sun after a long cold storm and falls in live with his wife again. Joseph is another character who must the face the prejudice of others. In the movie, Joseph starts out as a sewing machine operator for Mister Albert. Since he was never taken to a concentration camp, he enjoys listening to the stories of the passwords Mister Albert had used during the occupation of France. As Joseph applies for his French citizenship, an inspector that arrested his parents during the war refuses to give him one. Not knowing what to say, Joseph leaves the room, but returns shortly to defy the inspector. He retells the story of how the inspector was going to take his family to the concentration camp, but was able to escape bravely without looking back. He then tells the inspector that he is free and will one day write about his courage and the hardships of the war. The character who seems to be affected by the war the most, was Charles. In the beginning of the movie, Charles is the employee who sits quietly at his desk and avoids conversation with the others. We later find out that Charles had lost his children and wife in the concentration camps and waits for them each day at the window of his apartment. When Lea approaches him and confesses her love for him, he tells her that he has no feelings for her and wants to remain loyal to his wife. As the movie closes to and end, we see a change in Charles. He becomes more open and enjoys the company of Albert's children. In the end, he tells Lea that he is planning to move to Canada or Australia in order to start a new life and forget the old. The youngest of the characters were the two orphan boys. The first time we see one of the boys, George, is when the orphan refuses to eat strawberry jam. We later find out that his parents once told him that a jar of strawberry jam is precious and that it should be saved for a time in need. When officers rushed into his house to take his parents away, he hid in a closet. After everyone was gone, he stayed in the closet for along time and when he became hungry, he found and ate the jar of jam he found next to him. The other orphan, Daniel, we meet during the end of the movie. During a picnic, he is sitting alone by himself playing around with a pocket watch. We then find out that the pocket watch had been given to him by his father just before he was taken to a concentration camp. Since then, he rewinds the watch each day without letting it stop. It is the only item that comforts him and helps him remember his parents. In the end, through all the sorrow and pain the characters faced, they finally find joy. For Mister Albert, he found joy in his family whom he loved dearly. Joseph found the courage to write about freedom, Charles found hope to open a new chapter in his life and the orphans found the joy in their sorrowful memories in the hope of being closer to their lost parents. This movie has proven once again, that after a terrible storm, there is always sunshine.