By Marcy Levinson
“Children of Chance” is a well-made production that provides an unusual perspective on the Holocaust era from the eyes of a Jewish boy in a French provincial hospital.
Thanks to an ambulance ride, he narrowly escapes capture by the French police working with the Germans when they forcibly remove his entire family from his Paris home.
When his ambulance drivers see the roundup while bringing young Maurice home after he suffers an injury while gambling with neighborhood bullies, and the boy catches a glimpse of his family getting onto a bus, the escorts drive him to the country to hide.
That freak accident that lands him in the hospital with a broken hip and a seemingly incurable disease is the miracle that saves the boy’s life.
With compassion and care from the hospital’s doctor and doting nurse, the boys on the sick ward forge lasting friendships — some more than two years — and quirky, familylike dynamics not unlike those in the Broadway show “Annie.” Each character has a rich personality that’s well fleshed out not only in dialogue, but also in the quality of the young actors’ facial expressions.
At times it’s easy to forget it’s a Holocaust movie because of the laughter, singing and silliness; at times it’s hard not to hold your breath or simply let the tears fall. This movie has some unexpected ups and downs, but it will touch your heart in many ways.
I think the movie is safe for most ages if you are comfortable explaining to your child how during World War II a person could tell whether a boy was Jewish by pulling down his underwear. If that’s too awkward, you might want to limit the film to b’nai mitzvah age and above because it’s a powerful scene.