I rarely review older movies here on the site. When I make an exception and do so, it's either because I really like the movie or because it's very underseen and I want to spread the word about it. Fugitive Pieces is a wonderful example of both of these reasons.
I continuously find gems like that while going through an actor's filmoghraphy - with Michael Sheen I found one of my all time favorite films - Dirty Filthy Love and with Alan Rickman excellent Dark Harbor. With Lee Pace I discovered Soldier's Girl - a film that I think should be mandatory to watch by every single human being. Nowadays I'm watching as many things as I can with Stephen Dillane - and I found this gem.
Based on the novel of the same title, Fugitive Pieces follows Jakob Beer. When he was a little boy he managed to escape from his house after the Nazis killed his parents and took his sister Bella (Nina Dobrev) away. He was found by Athos (Rade Serbedzija) who took him in and kept him safe, taking him first to Greece and then to Toronto.
Jakob grows up to be a sweet and a gentle man, but his demons and nightmares still haunt him. He can't forget about his sister and he searches for information about her and other people lost during the war, eventually writing a book about his experiences. His search for peace and happiness is difficult and even the marriage to lively Alex (Rosamund Pike) doesn't seem to help. (and before you guys even think of commenting on the pairing, just read this)
I've seen a number of films about Holocaust but very few of those
focusing on the lives of people who managed to survive it. It's such an
interesting topic - how do you keep on living, being handed this great
gift of being alive and having escaped but also remembering all of those
who didn't? How do you handle the pain, the nightmares and irrational
guilt? How do you manage to forget for long enough to start a new life?
Jakob cannot let go of the way things were and the way they could have been - he keeps thinking of what happened to his sister, he keeps obsessing over it, which in the end traps him in his sadness and doesn't allow many people to connect with him enough to ease his heartache. His wife tries to understand him but she can't - she has too much light inside her and his darkness is buried too deep for him to let her in.
I'm writing about this movie because 1. I really want people to see it 2. Stephen Dillane's performances deserve praise in every thing he does and he is just amazing here 3. Jeremy Podeswa, the director of the film, is directing 2 episodes for next season of Game of Thrones so hopefully this means Stephen's character will finally be given scenes worthy of his talent 4. I think it's a good idea to check out the movie to see Pike's
performance as intelligent, elegant and unhappy wife just weeks before Gone Girl hits the cinemas.
Pike plays a character very much like the reader first sees Amy Dunne - a little spoiled, a little too lively, at first glance superficial. This is how Jakob sees her in spite of all her beauty and all her good intentions to make him happy and help him. She has an incredible scene in which her character finds her husband's notes and she finds out what he really thinks about her.
The time they spend together is not given a lot screentime but it's handled so well - Jakob is not writing those things about her out of spite - he appreciates her but he recognizes she will never be able to help him. And she reacts in the only way there is when she finds out her love isn't enough - feeling hurt, betrayed and rejected. It all felt so real and so painful.
Pike's performance just like
almost everyone here has something under surface - some actors here
appear only briefly but the characters they are playing are so rich you
can just feel all of those emotions and you have a feeling their past,
while nowhere near as painful as Jakob's was, still hides many secrets
But they are all satellites orbiting around Stephen Dillane, who yet again plays
such a good and sweet man his heartache makes everything so much
more painful to witness. Dillane can play flawed men, dangerous men, villains even, but for some reason
it's when he plays people like Jakob, Leonard Woolf or Thomas Jefferson
that his performances radiate with the most emotion and beauty. Maybe it's because in life, and by
extension - in movies, there are so few good men out there.
Is it something about his kind smile or gentle eyes that makes his characters' tragedies so difficult to bear? Or is it that those characters have so much good in them but something stops them from achieving happiness? Whether it's a painful past, an unhappy wife or family tragedy, Dillane usually needs only few scenes to show the extent of his characters' pain (or just one look on his face, as was the case in stunning train station scene in The Hours). And here he is the lead so he is given much more to do and that's something that should be happening more often in projects he appears in.
really liked about the performance was a small but noticeable way in which
he indicated passage of time - when his character is younger he is more naive and
thinks things will work out with his first wife, then when he meets
another woman he is a bit more restraint but still hopeful - hope is
what prevails in the movie and what keeps so many of the characters going.
saw the movie I made a comment that it was like watching Atonement only
without the horrific ending. Well, what a morbid surprise to find out
that the book it was based on had Jakob die along with his pregnant wife
in a car accident shortly after he finally found the happiness. That's just
horrible. There is such thing as too much tragedy and I'm
very glad that it was changed for the movie because the final scenes and
lines of the film are really beautiful and uplifting.
The film is by no means flawless - sometimes it feels like there are too many characters and some stories are given too much screen time at the cost of what I felt could be developed a bit better - but the actors bring the best in material and the story itself is so incredible it's enough to keep you watching.
If you like movies about flawed characters that end in uplifting way and bring in hope with them - watch this one.
PS: I really shouldn't end a review of such a serious movie with this but I feel that I have to given how we are constantly witnessing ridiculous sex scenes with no tenderness, no chemistry and no real sense of romance in movies nowadays -
ladies, this movie has one of the most beautiful love scenes I've ever
seen. Seriously, watch it.