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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Almost Peaceful
Almost Peaceful
Other // Unrated // March 29, 2005
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 11, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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In a nutshell:  A group of Jewish tailors and seamstresses try to reestablish their lives in Paris after surviving the Holocaust.

The Movie:

Albert (Simon Abkarian) and Lea (Zabou Breitman) are two of the lucky ones.  They are Jews who survived WWII, and now, in 1946, they are trying to put their lives back together in Paris.  They own a small tailor shop, and have hired six people, much more than he really needs, to help him with the work.  All save one are fellow Jewish survivors.

In a second floor shop, they spend the days sewing and making garments.  One of the workers frequents the prostitutes that hang out near a local hotel, and starts to grow fond of one, Simone.  Albert and Lea work on putting the romance back into their marriage, something that Albert finds difficult to do because of the anger that is still buried within him.  A pair of brothers come to apply for a job, but one of them turns out to be a horrible tailor.  They chat casually, and you can almost feel their joy at the fact that their lives are now uneventful.

This is a movie about the Holocaust, except that it isn't about the Holocaust.  The things that happened to these people during the war effect just about everything that they do, yet it is barely mentioned.  One person comments that "button hole" was a code word he used while in hiding.  The local matchmaker also sells scented soaps, and when someone comments that  "Your marriageable people smell of soap." she replies "Was it better when soap smelled of marriageable people?"  It is a common event they have all endured, and because of that, they don't need to talk about it.

This isn't a depressing and downbeat movie, though there are sad parts to it.  It is more of a slice of life film, showing how a small group of people who have survived a horrible time and are now managing to piece their lives back together.  A warm film that makes you realize how good most of us have it today.

The DVD:


Audio:

This movie comes with a stereo French soundtrack, but unfortunately the English subtitles are burned in, and are not optional.  I can't imagine why they did this.  Granted, most of the people who purchase or rent this DVD will want to use the translation, but there are many people who would prefer to view the film without them too.  One of the strengths of the DVD format is that publisher can give viewers the option of having subtitles or not.  It is too bad that Empire Pictures didn't give viewers that choice.

The soundtrack itself is clean and free of hiss and other defects.  The music comes through clearly and has a good range.  A nice sounding DVD.

Video:

The movie looks about average for a recent film.  The image is sharp and clear, but a little aliasing is present.  Some scenes are a tad dark, but this isn't a big problem.  The problem with the picture is that there was a large amount of edge enhancement that has been applied to the image.  This is too bad, because the picture would have looked much better without it.

Extras:

This disc also includes a photo gallery, a biography of the director, and a series of trailers.

Final Thoughts:

While watching this movie, I couldn't help but be drawn into the lives of these people.  The quiet way the movie unfolds is nice and simple yet very effective.  The director wisely chose not to fill this movie with flashbacks to the concentration camps and other horrors of the war.  Instead he let the people's reactions to the world around them tell the viewers all they needed to know.  A well made film that is recommended.
 

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