Forbidden Games (2015)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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One of the first films to see the horrors of war through the eyes of children, Forbidden Games was a critical smash, winning prizes from the New York Film Critics, the British Academy, and the Venice Film Festival. Adapted by Francois Boyer, director Rene Clement, and two others from Boyer's novel, the story focuses on Paulette (Brigitte Fossey), a five-year-old refugee from Paris taken in by a peasant family after her parents are killed during a bombardment of a civilian convoy. Michel Dolle (Georges Pujouly), the family's 11-year-old son, becomes her best friend, and they create a cemetery in which Paulette's dog is interred, along with other animals and insects, some of whom the children kill themselves. The Dolle family is too busy feuding with the Gouards, their neighbors, to notice the absence of the children. Eventually, authorities locate Paulette and insist that she be placed in an orphanage for legal adoption. Unsentimental and yet heartbreaking, Forbidden Games demonstrates the strategies of children who witness war to deal with the constant presence of death. It's also a bitter condemnation of the selfishness of adults who could offer their charges more love and protection. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi … More
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as Michel Dolle
as Madame Dolle
as Georges Dolle
as Berthe Dolle
as Francis Gouard
as Jeanne Gouard
as Raymond Dolle
as Red Cross Nun
as Jeanne Gouard
as Jeanne Gouard
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Critic Reviews for Forbidden Games
With its mixture of tones, its multiple plot focuses and its singular use of the virtuosity of Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes on the soundtrack, it is very much its own film.
The movie is clearly not interested in sugarcoating or sentimentalizing WWII, even though Clément has every opportunity to do so.
[It] has gone from the exemplar of what expressive narrative filmmaking could be to something more elegiac: This is what it now rarely even dares aspire to.
Audience Reviews for Forbidden Games
Two children bond over creating a pet cemetery during WWII.
The first fifteen minutes of this film are more effective than most blood-and-guts, modern-day war films. Focusing on the cavalcade of refugees and a little girl and her pet, director Rene Clement personalizes war that post-modern filmmakers balk from. The rest of the film follows Paulette, played with all the sweet innocence in the world by five-year-old Brigitte Fossey, and her friendship with Michel, a boy who lives on a farm. The children attempt to hold on to their innocence while coming to terms with the realities of death and war. The film loses me in the subplot about stealing crosses and neighborly rivalry; I suspect each of these relates to a metaphor Clement tries to develop or a commentary on religious comfort in times of sorrow, but I couldn't fully understand how the metaphor applied.
Overall, Forbidden Games isn't a children's film, which is how many modern studios might have perverted it in order to fit the marketplace, and it isn't a war film; it transcends both generic categories and becomes something more profound.
Forbidden Games tells of a girl orphaned by war who met a boy from a peasant family. He loves her. She loves him. Theirs is not just a story of young star-crossed lovers, but more significantly, how war robs childhood of its innocence. It is a love story, with compelling selfless details and unfathomable depth. Unforgettable.
As I've said before stories with children in major roles are always a gamble for me. Rare is the child who comes across as believable, especially in dramatic situations.
What a wonderful surprise this was as both Brigitte Fossey and Georges Poujouly do a remarkable job as Paulette and Michel. And not only are they the two youngest actors, they may well be the best two actors in the film (in my opinion).
The first fifteen minutes of this film are (aside from some chessy stock war footage) truly gut wrenching. Which was completely unexpected coming from a film of this era and really set a tone for the trials and tribulations of poor little Paulette. Paulettes puppy Jocko was a real source of distress for me as well, although he is sort of the foundation (along with her parents) for what transpires later in the film. It was hard to get past some of his "scenes" without feeling uncomfortable. (Don't want to give too much away)
While it does suffer from some predictable sub-plots and unintentional (era specific) cheesiness...the bulk of the film focuses on the innocence of children and speaks to their resilience. Though our two little scamps do go down a (slightly) dark trail, it is their love for each other that is the heart of the film.
While this is no "Ponette" in terms of heartbreaking emotion...if the last ten minutes of this film dosen't tug on your heart strings...you may want to call a cardiologist and have your heart checked.
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