On DVD: ‘To Life’ and ‘Princess’
Twenty years after Auschwitz, Helen reconnects with two friends who survived the camp along with her. The ladies meet at a French seaside resort, where they laugh, sing and eat their way through a breezy weekend on the beach. The happy tone ignores any psychological damage the women sustained, but French screenwriter-director Jean-Jacques Zilber-mann, inspired by his mother’s story of suffering and survival, suggests that life trumps death—even at Auschwitz. Breaking Glass Pictures (bgpics.com).
Adar, 12, lives with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Adar’s mother is the worst kind of parent, alternately seductive, punishing and lenient. Adar adopts the quality of seductiveness—a dangerous choice in a family that uses physical contact to replace healthy emotions. With this setup ripe for tragedy, Adar (Shira Hass) begins to roam the streets, where she meets the beautiful, androgynous Alan, her soulmate. She brings him home, and he seduces the mother’s boyfriend. Adar then becomes the victim of her boyfriend’s raging and ambiguous needs.
If Princess, written and directed by Tali Shalom-Ezer, is to be taken seriously as an exploration of child abuse, it should be pilloried for blaming the victim. If it’s to be taken seriously as art, it should be critiqued for the tedium of closeups of Adar looking seductive, bored or troubled. In the film’s one authentic moment, Alan spits out, “This is the most disgusting family I’ve ever seen.” Agreed. Breaking Glass Pictures.