It may not be a realistic depiction of the Holocaust, but "Devil's Arithmetic" is a well-done film that's able to provide a portrait of Jewish life in Nazi occupation. It's both depressing and essential to memory.
Kirsten Dunst is in the present-day (late 90's), playing as a bratty Jewish teenager who, instead of caring about her heritage, just wants to hang out with her friends and do what she wants. One night, she reluctantly goes to her Aunt Eva's for a Passover dinner. When she is asked to do a ritual, she opens the door and somehow travels back in time to Poland, just in time for a family wedding... and the Nazi invasion. As she's led away from the safety she's known and straight into peril, she learns a great deal and tries to provide hope for her fellow prisoners.
First of all, the cast may not seem stellar, but they do a surprisingly good job in conveying the joy and fear the Jews felt. Its suggestion that we must never forget what happened is a brilliant one at that, and is super-effective! Most who don't know much about the Holocaust will realize truly how devastating it was, just like the main character in this film. The sets and costumes are faithful to the period, and the score is really good.
At first, I thought it wasn't going to be too good. The intro just felt... too modern and out-of-place for a Holocaust film. And yes, the whole time travel thing seemed random and unorthodox, and had a few holes. However, they don't weaken the film's message. A few things were cut out, though; maybe there should've been more to the suffering endured (where were the numbers the Jews were branded with?) in this film. The accents were annoying to hear, and didn't seem that convincing.
Overall, "Devil's Arithmetic" is a good one to start off on the Holocaust subject of film. It is no "Schindler's List" (after all, this was made for television), but it sublimely fulfills its purpose.