This Second World War drama was based on French director Louis Malle’s own childhood experiences.
In Nazi-occupied France a 12-year-old boy is sent to a strict Carmelite convent school. Here he wonders why a newcomer is treated so differently – bullied by other boys, shielded by teachers.
The arrival of the Gestapo shows why – the boy is Jewish.
As a reminiscence of bigotries past, Au Revoir Les Enfants has a discreet integrity that’s rare among films dealing with anti-Semitism. It all works extremely well because Malle never sentimentalises friendships or cruelty, and the result is a powerful tract in miniature.
Stanislas Carré de Malberg