Odd-couple road trip films are nothing new, and are enjoyable to watch. Most recently, there was “Green Book,” but this genre includes film favorites such as “Easy Rider,” “Harry & Tonto,” “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” and “Thelma and Louise,” to name just a few. Here, however, there’s a slight twist: The two men who embark on the road trip are elderly — one is the son of Holocaust victims and the other is the son of the SS officer who allegedly executed the other’s parents. Not only that, their route and destinations include the towns and villages where they will connect with living witnesses.
This is a dramedy and much of the early part of the film focuses on the protagonists’ wildly contrasting personalities, possibly attributed to the fact that they are the children of victim and perpetrator, the former having led a principled life, while the latter has had bouts with alcoholism, multiple divorces, and loneliness.
Still, while there are certainly comedic moments, this film, by Slovakian director Martin Šulík, is ultimately more melancholic and reflective. This is nonetheless a pensive film with wonderful cinematography, somewhat dramatic revelations and twists, as well as hints of optimism. As far as Holocaust films go, this is certainly unique and definitely worthwhile.
Janice Convoy-Hellmann has been involved with the AJFF for almost 10 years, serving on both the Evaluation and Programming committees and pre-screening hundreds of films in advance of the festival.