The Flat (2012)
At age 98, director Goldfinger's grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared for decades since immigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Sifting through a dense mountain of photos, letters, files, and objects, Goldfinger begins to uncover clues that seem to point to a greater mystery and soon a complicated family history unfolds before his camera. What starts to take shape reflects nothing less than the troubled and taboo story of three generations of Germans - both Jewish and non-Jewish - trying to piece together the puzzle of their lives in the aftermath of the terrible events of World War II. -- (C) IFC … More
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Critic Reviews for The Flat
It's a mesmerizing detective story ...with an oddly uplifting ending that suggests a commonality of the human spirit that supersedes ideology.
'The Flat' has a strange staying power that the objects in the apartment didn't.
An intriguing documentary about a man who discovers some huge surprises with major implications when he starts digging through the stuff left behind in his grandparent's apartment in Tel Aviv after his grandmother's death.
Arnon's filmmaking is flaccid, with TV-style interviews and rote reaction shots in place of cinematic imagery and deftly edited surprises.
Since there's no big payoff, the family drama documentary fizzles in the end.
There's something touching about the way Goldfinger obeys his moral compass.
I will salute the deftness and intelligence with which Goldfinger observes the reactions of the living to the revelations of the dead.
Grandma's closet contains a story only the third generation can hear
Are things better left alone or is revealing all always the best path? "The Flat," to its credit, offers nothing like a definitive answer.
"The Flat" is a compelling tale of history made personal, and of what happens when light is shone on something previously murky.
An earnest and deeply personal exhumation of proverbial skeletons in the family closet, The Flat is damned by its own incuriosity.
Once the facts have been presented, the film begins to run out of steam and one is only left to question why the filmmaker took this approach.
The movie feels more like a thriller and a mystery than a documentary. Perhaps someday, someone will be inspired to dramatize this astonishing story.
A film that turns a personal story into a commentary on international denial and healing after World War II.
Engrossing doc finds buried bonds between an Israeli family and an important Nazi.
This fascinating docu should easily attract crossover auds, and merits arthouse exposure.
Watching Goldfinger's curiosity be met with different answers to the same questions while his mother absorbs this new side of her own parents proves a fascinating study in family history.
Audience Reviews for The Flat
What makes this documentary so revealing and intriguing is not so much the mystery that Goldfinger tries to uncover or its shocking implications but all the collective propensity of second-generation Jews and Germans to close their eyes and leave the past and secrets behind.More
This one is going to be getting mixed reviews. I just saw it in the theater with my wife. I disliked it, and she loved it. She saw it as a fascinating puzzle akin to her research into her own family history. I was bored. The documentary starts with a familty cleaning out Grandma's single-floor apartment soon after her death. Grandma was a German Jew who lived most of her life in Israel. The descendants discover that Grandma and Grandpa were close friends to a Nazi couple back in Germany. And they continued the friendship even after World War II and Nazi atrocities had become widely known. While I agree that this is pretty strange, I found that I didn't care all that much. My wife, on the other hand, sat on the edge of her seat as the daughter and grandson slowly fill in details about the friends and the friends' relationship to the grandparents. By the end of the movie, I didn't feel particularly enlightened about how these peope came to be friends nor how they continued to be friends. As I say, however, my wife was fascinated. I am guessing you'll like this movie if you are interested in how historians do research, if you' re interested in the holocaust, and if you like documentaries. 2 stars 6-21-13More
A wonderfully crafted and very personal documentary, that should speak to a whole new generation post the 'silent' one! Goldfinger does a superb job of dealing with unanswerable questions, peeling back the onion layers and trying to get to the truth and some sort of conclusion. That there can't be one and all is left is speculation, is what makes this film so compelling and powerful. Everyone who sees it will judge it based on his/her own personal experiences.More
A lot of families have skeletons in their closets. For Arnon Goldfinger(?!?), after his grandmother dies, he finds quite a few creepy looking mink stoles in her closet in her apartment in Israel. On a more metaphorical level, he discovers a friendship his grandparents had with a senior SS officer not only before World War II, but after.
To be honest, that's not as weird as it sounds. That's for the simple reason that emigrants tend to identify more with the country they came from, then the one they move to, as his grandparents continued to speak German after they arrived in Israel, never learning to speak Hebrew.(As he recalled in his autobiography, Kirk Douglas remembers hearing German songs when he was filming on location in Israel which made him very, very angry.) At least, Arnon is in the right neighborhood when he talks about generational differences, even as he cannot truly overcome the home movie aesthetics of his documentary "The Flat."
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