Fam­ily se­crets ex­posed in a poorly told tale of trauma

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - FILM ANNE JOSEPH Let Me Go

I(15) TS PREMISE is a strong one — an in­die, crowd-funded film about gen­er­a­tional trauma, fam­ily se­crets and how de­ci­sions made in the past im­pact on mother-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ships in the present. Let Me Go is a story that de­serves to be told but di­rec­tor Polly Steele’s treat­ment of it feels forced and con­trived.

The drama is based on the real-life story of Ger­man born Helga Sch­nei­der, whose mother aban­doned her when she was four years old in or­der to pur­sue a ca­reer in the SS.

Juliet Stevenson stars as the 62-year-old Helga. When she re­ceives a let­ter from a cousin in Aus­tria in­form­ing her that her mother, Traudi (Swedish ac­tor, Karin Bertling), whom she has not seen for decades, is dy­ing, she re­alises that she must re­spond. She trav­els from her na­tive Lon­don to Vi­enna, where she fi­nally faces her own demons and con­fronts the wo­man who left her.

Helga’s adored grand­daugh­ter, Emily — with mother is­sues of her own — in­sists on ac­com­pa­ny­ing her; ig­no­rant of Traudi’s past, she is keen to meet the great-grand­mother she un­der­stood had died long ago. But, as the past un­rav­els, the longterm ef­fect on Traudi’s de­scen­dents be­comes ap­par­ent.

Stevenson is in full thesp-mode but speaks with an in­con­sis­tent and ques­tion­able Ger­man ac­cent.

Although her anx­i­ety and ten­sion at meet­ing Traudi is pal­pa­ble and Bertling is con­vinc­ing as the for­mer Auschwitz camp guard, much of the show­down be­tween them is ex­ag­ger­ated.

Cred­i­bil­ity is fur­ther ham­pered by cliché: “What do you want from me,” asks Traudi. “How did you be­come this?” Helga won­ders.

A weak sub-plot about char­ac­ters’ love lives adds lit­tle; in fact Emily’s li­ai­son with hand­some barista Serge is pre­dictable and gives li­cence to some more cringey one-lin­ers.

Af­ter a visit to Vi­enna’s Holo­caust Memo­rial, she pon­ders, over a glass of red: “So many peo­ple, I won­der who they were. I only wish I knew them.”

Beau­ti­ful cin­e­matog­ra­phy does not make up for su­per­fi­cial­ity in this un­even and hammy film.


Karin Bertling, as Traudi in

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