Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Secret

(Un secret, France, 2007)

I guess there are six million Holocaust stories, and it sometimes feels that I’ve seen five million of them. I’m not trying in any way to be flippant here, nor am I saying it’s time to stop making movies about the Holocaust. That should never happen. Maybe the thing I’m trying to articulate in trying to figure out why this well-made story just didn’t grab me is that, if you do make a Holocaust story it needs to be extra-special in some way, or it will turn out to feel like … sorry about this … just another Holocaust story. We really don’t want to end up bored by them, do we? And I wasn’t bored, not quite, just not much engaged. For one thing, the time line was fractured so much that it took a long time to sort it all out. (And perhaps, except those quite a bit more knowledgeable about the French experience than I am—which I suspect is 99% of Americans—it is hard to know just what these characters are doing.) For instance, do you know much about the difference between “occupied” France and Vichy France? Was there much point in a Jew fleeing from one to another? Apparently there was, and I hadn’t been aware of that. So here is a film that probably made more of an impact on French audiences, who know the history, than it did on me. Or, maybe I’m just an historical ignoramus. For whatever reason, I never got really involved in these people, despite the dire straits they found themselves in.