Goodbye, Children (Au Revoir Les Enfants) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Goodbye, Children (Au Revoir Les Enfants) Reviews

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April 2, 2017
The denunciation of racism is well done but the film would like to make us believe that France is a country of resistans (while they were mostly colaborating) and that the cathos, by nature antisemitic, wanted to protect the Jews during the occupation, Which is false, as the example of Poland shows. And why is the denouncing guy a worker when the resistance was predominantly communist? The most racist are found amongst the capitalists. We must not forget the fate of the blacks in the death camps. To see with a critical eye.
½ December 22, 2016
The masterpiece from Louis Malle follows a couple boys at a boarding school in occupied France during WWII. It is soon learned that one of them is Jewish and in hiding. It's a beautiful and challenging film as kids realize the ugly things and people in life. I was blown away by it, and it is based on true events. A must watch!
March 12, 2016
I had to watch this movie in French Class and seriously I wanted to shoot myself in the head. The characters r boring and the story was boring. It all leads up to a climax where nothing happens. The director should have used his brain to actually think of a story not make a movie about his own boring life. A movie set in one of the most inspiring, ruthless, and horrific times in world history maybe the director should have written a movie about something other then his personal dull experiences.
March 12, 2016
There are many words you can use to describe Au Revoir Les Enfants, but if you aren't putting brilliant and amazing on the list, you missed something. This movie, clearly very personal to Malle, is an extraordinary look at such universal themes as youth, friendship, war, and compassion; making some kind of point about all of them in under two hours. A true masterpiece that adds a late great entry in Malle's undeniably exceptional canon.
February 23, 2016
A brilliant film, made so by its dispassionate pathos. It works as a nostalgia piece, but even moreso as an almost hagiographic witness to virtue in the midst of vice. It was no surprise to me to read that Malle worked with Bresson early in his career, as this shows in the avoidance of cliche, and in the under-acting beauty of the players. I was taken by the portrayal of a time now lost, with its flaws, yes, but moreso its beauty.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2016
Au Revoir Les Enfants by Louis Malle is 99% autobiographical and is regarded by Malle himself as the most important film he made. It's an entertaining enough film until the astonishing climax. Powerful and subtle at the same time with many interesting characters. Most of the characters aren't explored in great detail, this adds to the story, and without spoiling the ending, is kind of the point and how Malle remembers it. The most striking character of all is actually the Kitchen boy Joseph, again I won't tell you why as it will spoil the film and you really should see it for yourself!
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2015
A touching and ultimately a more personal story of WWII and the devastating effects. You have to respect the monks who risked and even some sacrificed their lives to protect the children who couldn't protect themselves. A true story of childhood friendship and the tragedy of war. Highly Recommended!
November 18, 2015
The boarding school stuff is a little too much familiar territory, but the political backdrop is very compelling.
July 30, 2015
A masterclass on how to avoid sentimentality.
March 31, 2015
Simply riveting! Words can't express with any measure of adequacy the poignancy and realism with which the vagaries of troubled times have been depicted destroying the magical innocence of childhood here. A must watch! A timeless piece of art from the French master.
½ March 8, 2015
The director based the story of this film on events from his own adolescent past during World War II, and therefore the genre for this film is Historiographic cinematography. Aside from that detail, I believe that this movie is wonderfully told. The narrative sequence is flawless, and even though the movie is a bit long, the director holds the viewer's interest throughout the movie. However, the movie is a bit sad, and although we are not told what happens to the Jewish boy at the end of the movie, we can only guess that the outcome is tragic and the Jewish boy was most likely sent to a concentration camp.
February 22, 2015
what makes this different from a hollywood treatment of the same idea is that the children are not airbrushed. They are playful and spiteful in equal measure. They get frightened when they get lost in the woods and then they boast to their friends that they weren't frightened at all. They read the arabian nights together because it is 'naughty' and one has a secret crush on the mother of the other. They are growing up and learning about life. All through this you are aware that the events of the second world war are raging around them and when these finally intervene into their lives the result is genuinely devastating and immensely moving. the final scene is one that lives in the memory.
February 10, 2015
A simultaneously sweet yet also dour period tale of youth, ŽAu RevoirŽis an effective period drama. The strength of its young cast is complimented by a very restrained directing approach and an atmosphere of increasing fear, masterfully controlled by veteran filmmaker Louis Malle.
½ January 24, 2015
This French WWII film confines Nazis and freedom fighters to the background in deference to a segment of the population that is typically relegated to one-dimensional supporting roles: children. It is a fresh point of view, and one with many potential pitfalls, but Louis Malle's careful execution and commitment to truth carry it through. Basing the story on his own experiences at a Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France, he draws on detailed memories of the cruelty and naivety of children. The students in "Au Revoir Les Enfants" are not precocious, like so many movie youths, but they do have individual talents and interests, and they enjoy pretending to be sophisticates. They try to talk dirty, they exaggerate their experiences, and they pretend not to miss their parents when all they think about privately is how they long to be with them. They all have problems and insecurities, as well, that expose them to the insensitive taunts of their peers. One boy has night terrors, one is anemic and faints during mass, and the protagonist is a bed-wetter.

But these are nothing compared to the dangerous secret that some boys are hiding. The lead boy, Julien, whom a teacher describes as intelligent and a bit pretentious, reluctantly befriends a new student, Jean. They share a love of reading, but Julien resents the fact that Jean is a smarter than he and more of a teacher's favorite. Jean is sensitive, and therefore an easy target, so Julien quickly discovers his weak point. But he withholds the valuable information, recognizing its importance without fully understanding its meaning: Jean is Jewish, taking refuge in the school under a false name.

It is hard to find your way to this movie without knowing that key plot point, so even before it comes to the forefront Malle begins exploring it through artful verbal and visual cues. Early on, two students in the schoolyard pretend to be knights engaged in combat. One of them, secretly Jewish, chooses to play the part of a Saracen knight. The other students call him an infidel, and only Jean cheers for him. But such moments of agency in which Jean can express his identity without outing himself are few. More often, he is at risk of appearing different because of things he cannot do: he cannot recite the Hail Mary and other prayers with the rest of the students, cannot eat pork when it is offered, and cannot receive communion.

The communion scene is particularly interesting because it shows the limitations of the school headmaster's charity. After delivering a ringing sermon to wealthy parents about the need to give generously to those in need, Jean comes to the front to receive communion. The headmaster passes him over since he knows Jean is not a Catholic. The moment might have been too-on-the-nose but for the interesting questions it raises. Does Jean intend only to strengthen his disguise by joining in this ritual? Does he do it to better fit in with his peers, and to get closer to his friend Julien? Or, as I tend to think, does he do it because the headmaster's sermon has deeply moved him? In any case, this is one of several moments that make us wonder whether the headmaster could have done more to keep his Jewish charges safe.

Another is the decision that brings about the end of the ruse. The students and teachers gather to watch Charlie Chaplin's "The Immigrant" (a 27 year-old film, but there is a war on and it is a religious school). Images of The Tramp and a woman sliding around a rolling ship give way to Malle's shots of a brawl on icy pavement between the school's cook and crippled kitchen boy. The boy, perhaps 18 years old, has been running a black market in preservatives, so the headmaster fires him. In retaliation, the boy notifies the local Gestapo that the school is harboring Jews. The headmaster is a hero who shelters Jews at the risk of his own safety, yet his incomplete committal to his espoused principles creates an opportunity for his work to be undone. Still, he falls gracefully. He courageously delivers the titular farewell when he is marched off to share the Jewish students' inevitable fate-a fate Malle has foreshadowed in a tense but beautiful forest sequence midway through the film.

The movie's Nazis are one-note, but this is not a problem so long as they are kept in the background. When they show up in force at the end, they indulge in a bit too much leering and mustache-twirling for a film that is primarily interested in the hypocrisy and indifference of the French rather than the blatant barbarism of the Germans. But nothing diminishes the impact of the film's final lines, which are delivered almost without emotion in a voice-over by an adult Julien. The window on the atrocities of WWII that he had as a child was a narrow and privileged one, and his understanding of them was imperfect, but the sudden and permanent loss of a friend became a searing and defining memory for him. By looking at the period and place through a child's eyes, Malle demonstrates that no amount of insularity or innocence could keep one blind as to what was happening to Europe's Jewish population.
January 5, 2015
Heartbreaking. But beautiful.
January 5, 2015
Simple, beautiful and heartbreaking, "Au Revoir Les Enfants" once again proved that a war is horrifying for children, even they don't know about it.
January 2, 2015
A very hearted and very well directed and written film about the horror of our past. Goodbye Children seem so real that I forgotten they were even actors. This is a masterpiece in my eye. Simple but great. A+ Goodbye Children. There need to be more films like this and just as meaningful.
November 24, 2014
A brilliant film, made so by its dispassionate pathos. It works as a nostalgia piece, but even moreso as an almost hagiographic witness to virtue in the midst of vice. It was no surprise to me to read that Malle worked with Bresson early in his career, as this shows in the avoidance of cliche, and in the under-acting beauty of the players. I was taken by the portrayal of a time now lost, with its flaws, yes, but moreso its beauty.
November 18, 2014
Good movie. Seriously depressing though.
½ October 6, 2014
Emotional, powerful, and ultimately heartbreaking, Louis Malle crafts an interesting and tragic story of a common European boy in WW2.
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