In 1933 Nuremberg, successful Jewish businessman Leo Katzenberger owns an apartment building and runs a shoe store. A devoted family man, he has a good relationship with his loving wife ...
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In 1933 Nuremberg, successful Jewish businessman Leo Katzenberger owns an apartment building and runs a shoe store. A devoted family man, he has a good relationship with his loving wife Claire. As the climate in Germany grows increasingly dangerous, bombshell Irene moves to the neighborhood. After forming an unlikely friendship, his relationship with Irene is immediately regarded with suspicion. His refusal to live his life in secrecy leads to trouble and before long he is arrested. Accused of having an affair with Irene, he is tried and executed by the German government. Written by
a solid, well-made, moving film based on actual events
I saw this at the Montreal Film Festival, which this year is showcasing German cinema. Leo und Claire is based on a real story, the account of a German Jewish manufacturer who was tried and executed for having sexual relations with a young Aryan woman. But this is really a love story, and the new title, which focuses on the relationship between the man and his wife, Claire, puts the emphasis in the right place. Although Leo was innocent of the charge, he was certainly guilty of being Jewish in Nazi Germany and the film has the courage to deal with the complicity of "ordinary Germans" in the persecution and destruction of the Jews. As well, although the viewer's emotions are gripped by Leo's trial and sentence, no one watching the film will overlook the irony that in some terrible way, he got off lucky compared to what probably happened to his wife and those of his family who were still in Germany, of which nothing specific is known. The participation of Leo's daughter, Lilo, now an old woman resident in Israel, where she lived through the war years, makes the film that much more immediate.
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