Follows three people whose paths cross during a terrible time of war: Olga, a Russian aristocratic emigrant and member of the French Resistance; Jules, a French collaborator; and Helmut, a high-ranking German SS officer.
Feature film about three people whose paths cross during a terrible time of war: Olga, a Russian aristocratic emigrant and member of the French Resistance; Jules, a French collaborator; and Helmut, a high-ranking German SS officer. Olga is arrested for hiding Jewish children during a raid. Her case is investigated by Jules who, attracted to her, offers to be soft on her if she'll sleep with him. But his intentions are cut short when he is killed by Resistance fighters. Olga is put into a concentration camp where she encounters Helmut who was once madly in love with her and still harbours feelings for her. Together they embark on a twisted and destructive relationship. As the Nazis face imminent defeat, Helmut decides to save Olga and escape with her to South America. Although she initially agrees to go with him, at the last moment she changes her mind. Prepared to die for her beliefs - the idea that all lives have a purpose and that even in the direst circumstances, people are capable... Written by
Andrei Konchalovsky Studios
"Ray" or "Paradise" is a Russian/German collaboration that is fittingly for the protagonists' nationalities partially in the French language, partially in the German language and partially in the Russian language, so unless you are really a language talent, make sure you got a good set of subtitles while watching. The film runs for over 2 hours and is the newest work by lauded Russian filmmaker Andrey Konchalovskiy. He had his 80th birthday recently, so he was already alive back then already when the film is set, namely during the days of World War II. This maybe also explains his creative decision to turn this into a black-and-white movie as if it was really made back then. However, it certainly does look too modern for other reasons to make such an impression, at least for me. It's perfectly fine though. I muse say with the exception of supporting actor Peter Kurth, I don't know any of the cast here. Kurth gave a good supporting performance as a ruthless Nazi officer. He was perhaps the only character in this film who was downright evil and did not have any shades to him in terms of black and white. The female central character played by the director's wife Yuliya Vysotskaya (the one who received most awards attention from the cast) was maybe the exact opposite. The two male characters in the center of the story have a great deal of shades to them, even if they may seem like evil guys initially too. They were more thrown into the abyss of the Nazi movement, also for self-protection partially, than really driving forces, especially when it comes to the Holocaust. For Christian Clauss, the German lead actor, it was his very first performance I think and for that it was really impressive. The most interesting part to me, however, was the one involving Philippe Duquesne early on. After he was gone after the first half hour or so, things got slightly worse for the rest of the film I think. It really was the highlight as the story of French collaborators is really one that hasn't been done as often yet as stories about German soldiers or concentration camp inmates. But it is still a good movie I think. Had it managed to stay on the level of the first chapter for the following 1.5 hours too, it could have managed the Oscar nomination and not just made the list of the final nine contenders. Still a pretty good achievement admittedly. This is a definite contender for best Holocaust film of 2016 and I recommend checking it out. The only thing I did not really like about it were the scratching sounds when they jumped a few seconds in these scenes when the 3 protagonists are talking to the camera justifying why they did what they did, which also results in a big plot twist at the very end that I will not go any further into detail now to avoid spoilers. Enough said now. This one's definitely worth watching despite occasional lengths in the second half of the film.
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