Thursday, August 29, 2013

Netflix streaming tip: Murnberger's Holocaust com-dram MY BEST ENEMY

Slick, fun, smartly directed (by Wolfgang Murnberger) and written (by Murnberger and Paul Hengge), and very well acted, MY BEST ENEMY deals with things we know went on during the Holocaust: the theft of great art, for instance, and the betrayal of Jews by those they considered their Aryan friends. The film is alternately exciting, moving, and funny, with the ironies often coming so thick and fast that you'll be tempted to call the film a comedy (the IMDB actually does, while positioning it as drama,  as well.).

The cast is aces: the ubiquitous and always fine Moritz Bleibtreu (above, left) plays the leading Jew, the son of a famous German art dealer; Ursula Strauss (above, right) is his affianced; and Georg Friedrich (above, center) gets maybe the juiciest role, that of the long-time Aryan friend and son of this wealthy family's housekeeper (yes, we have a class issue here). It's also great to see Marthe Keller, still quite beautiful, as Bleibtreu's mom. You'll note that the costumes above would seem indicate otherwise than what I've just stated, and this is part of the film's continuing surprise and fun.

Still, there hangs over the movie -- and this becomes more and more obvious as it moves along and is also more strongly felt perhaps than in almost any other film about the Holocaust that I can recall -- something that renders the whole thing less than important, as though the movie's real raison d'etre is simply to entertain us, however it can. Which it certainly does, and very well. Perhaps those of my generation -- older folk who remember, and/or have friends who experienced the Jewish Holocaust firsthand -- will not be quite yet ready to watch this landmark of genocide and horror, particularly in a film from Germany, used in this way.

From IFC Films and running 109 minutes, the movie is available now via Netflix streaming - and elsewhere, too, I'm sure.

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