Yann Samuell, who earlier gave us the odd, dark and sprightly Love Me if You Dare. I have the sinking feeling we shall never see M. Samuell's version here in the USA because the second of the two newest Buttons, and the film under consideration here, has been picked up for U.S. distribution by The Weinstein Company and opens tomorrow in New York City and Los Angeles. Its director/adapter Christophe Barratier (shown at right), who earlier gave us smart, appealing crowd-pleasers like The Chorus and Paris 36, has accomplished pretty much the same thing with his latest film.
Thomas Langmann and two other writers), M. Barratier has set his War in the midst of another war -- World War II -- and this has both its benefits and one major draw-back. Three of the remakes -- Samuell's, Robert's and the Irish ver-sion all set their film in the 1960s, which was also Robert's current time frame, while the 1937 version, unseen by me, probably takes place in some time period between the novel's original and the year the film was made. Setting this story -- of gangs of kids from nearby and competing villages who engage in a "war" in which buttons are removed from the opposing gang's clothing as "victory trophies" -- in our current times, these kids' "war" would probably result in the kind of mayhem and misanthropy found in Battle Royale or The Hunger Games.
Clément Godefroy, shown center), beautifully filmed in the French countryside, and the element of the Nazi overseers, even though we barely see them (the French needed little push to do the German's bidding) adds some suspense and gravity to the situation of the children's own little "war." The down side of all this comes from Barratier's pandering to his home audience by making nearly everyone in the small town either a Resistance fighter or someone remarkably quick to rise in defense of Jews. As feel-good as all this proves, you'll want a taste of Sarah's Key or the upcoming La Rafle in order to get your bearings on reality again.
Guillaume Canet (above, left, and for the first time looking fully an adult) as the town's teacher, Laetitia Casta (above, right, as his stand-offish enamorata) and Kad Merad (below) as Lebrac's dad.
Angelika Film Center), in Los Angeles at Landmark's Regent Theater, in San Francisco at the Bridge Theater and in Berkley, CA, at the Shattuck Cinemas. A nationwide limited release will follow.