When this film opens, Jean and Phillipe are lovers in 1942 Paris, which has been occupied by Germany. No one knows about their clandestine relationship, and with good reason, as homosexuality is an instant death sentence under Nazi rule. Sara, a Jew who loves Jean but does not know at first that he is gay, re-enters his life when her family is massacred, and Jean agrees to hide her despite Phillipe's reluctance. Sara works under the name "Yvonne" in Jean's family's store and lives at Phillipe's apartment. In the meantime, Jean's brother, Jacques, a professional thief, returns home from jail and continues to loot the homes of wealthy Jews who have been sent to concentration camps while at the same time harboring a grudge that Jean is the favored child in the family. A love triangle also occurs between Jacques, Sara, and Jean, as Jacques begins to fall for Sara, who only has eyes for Jean. All of this comes to a brutal end when the various secrets being kept by the main characters are betrayed, and one of the characters is sent to a concentration camp.
The acting and story are stellar. The story, in fact, is pretty much a downer when all is said and done, but the characters are brimming with life and its ensuing complications. Even the character of Jacques, with all of his jealousy toward his brother and illegal profession, is multi-faceted; we see that he is not all bad in some very important ways. This film, although billed as a gay wartime love story, is really about Sara, and how she deals with the fallout from the events that occur once she is given shelter by Jean and Phillipe. The story is seen mainly through her eyes, and although all of the characters suffer, it is her emotions on whom the film focuses.
There are certainly many films that have been made about the Holocaust, many of them excellent, but A Love to Hide is one of the best, if only for its unique perspective. It also stays away from the plaintive violin-driven score that so many films of this genre use, which gives it a fresh appeal. And its message – that love comes in many forms – is truly timeless.
The picture is gorgeous, especially during the countryside scenes. Presented in 16x9 widescreen, the picture truly adds to the overall experience.
Available in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 (French only with English subtitles), the sound quality is very good. Don't allow the fact that this is a foreign-language film, and the fact that it can occasionally be a pain to read subtitles, deter you from giving it a try.
Although the keep case lists "special features," there are none. Unless you consider things like widescreen, coming attractions, scene selections, and sound selection special features. Then I would have to conclude that you only just recently discovered DVDs after years of watching VHS tapes!
A Love to Hide is by no means uplifting, but who says every film has to be? This is an extremely well-made and well-acted focus on a terrifying period of history. Check it out.