Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 125 minutes
Stranger Says: I really wanted to like this German rom-com, but it’s just too loud and manic for my sensitive senses. And if some thought is given to the film’s plot—which has at its center a middle-aged German Holocaust scholar and his young female French intern—you will quickly conclude that much of its shouting, banging, crashing, barking, bashing this, breaking that, and stumbling about could have been cut out with little to no impairment to its story. Yesterday could have been much quieter movie. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
SIFF Says:Is it possible to make a rom-com based on Holocaust research? German writer/director Chris Kraus’ audacious, provocative story about a misanthropic historian reluctantly paired with an ebullient intern appears, at first, to head toward a formulaic exercise in transgressive romance. But Klaus wisely chooses unexpected pivots toward more nuanced emotional material as his characters grapple with their shared tragic history. The film focuses on humorless Holocaust scholar Toto (Lars Eidinger), who is planning a conference about the legacy of the camps but chafes against the crassness of corporate sponsorship. So he’s already in a dismissive mood when he meets his polar opposite in Zazie (Adèle Haenel), the young, confrontational French woman who becomes his assistant. While she has her share of wisecracks (“A Holocaust researcher with a sense of humor is like a butt without a hole”) and impulsive tendencies (tossing a small dog out of a moving car), Klaus leavens the screwball antics with genuine emotions stirred up by the dark subject matter. When Toto and Zazie both realize they have ancestors on opposite sides during the Holocaust, they find a common bond that draws them together. The Bloom of Yesterday manages the difficult feat of finding humor in spite of the backdrop of systemized genocide, while acknowledging that the scars from the Third Reich are still tender, even three generations removed.
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