The setting is Germany, 1945. Lore (Saskia Rosendahl is her debut role) is a 14 year old girl who has been raised as an anti-Semite. Her Nazi parents are being hunted by the Allied forces. Her father, a high-ranking SS officer, shoots the family dog and burns all incriminating documents before fleeing. Her mother, seemingly repressing even a flicker of maternal devotion, gives Lore jewellery to sell for food and leaves her in charge as she leaves for an internment camp.
The five siblings – one still a baby – must travel to their grandmother’s house in the north. It becomes a battle of starvation and an eye opening journey through the wilderness, as the young are exposed to images of concentration camps and gradually realise that the situation were never as it appeared to be. Lore experiences a sexual awakening when she meets a young refugee named Thomas (Kay Peter Malina), a Jew. She is as attracted to him as she is repulsed. There is little dialogue between the two, just immense tension and stares of rich intensity and curiosity.
Cate Shorland's Lore adopts an interesting, alternate perspective of post war Germany. It poses the questions; Are the Nazi offspring victims of racism despite holding the same ideology? Are such core nurtured and hostile prejudices against others capable of changing? There are symbolic parallels in tandem here. The Fuhürer is dead, and a fragmented Germany is left to pick up the pieces. The children are in a sense, an embodiment of the country itself, abandoned by their parents and having to fend for themselves. Adam Arkapaw's rich and beautiful cinematography has contributed largely to the film's wide critical acclaim. The general consensus seems to be that Lore is outstanding. It certainly is a bold and provocative piece of work, with impressive elements. However, I felt obliged to adore it rather than actually doing so. Admittedly many films are not designed to be 'likeable' but regardless, they can be greatly admired. This wasn't the case personally, and I feel almost blasphemous for writing this, the film felt a little forced at times.
The camera remains in intimate proximity to the natural setting, abruptly changing from a close up of a dandelion to a flock of birds flying over boughs of a tree. When the children come across a corpse covered in blood, the camera zooms in on ants marching over the stained red skin. Saskia Rosendahl gives a strong debut performance as Lore, but there is more emphasis on her beauty and desirability than her character and her moral dilemmas. This is cinema relishing in it's role as an art form in a self conscious fashion.