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A Secret

A Jewish French family hides the true costs of its trials during World War II

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Claude Miller's handsomely filmed drama jumps between the 1950s, 1980s and 1940s to show how one extended Jewish family in France was undone and re-configured by the horrors of World War II. For young Francois, born after the war, the revelation of concealed histories spurs a complete re-assessment of his family and his place in it. Flashbacks reveal the entire story to us, though virtually none of it will come as a surprise to the astute viewer. Miller's goal is not to shock, but to explain -- particularly how powerful the truth can be: For some, it's devastating, for others, liberating. Then, there's the collective knowledge of France's Jewish survivors, with various unresolved burdens of shame, guilt, sadness and anger. Miller shoots the recalled pre-war past in gloriously lit color (even the scenes of tragedy sparkle) while the present-day sequences are black-and-white, downbeat -- and ultimately fail to coalesce well with the more sharply observed scenes from the past. Regardless, the film is well acted, and if its themes are familiar, they're well served by the intimate scale. In French and some Yiddish, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Feb. 27. Squirrel Hill

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