Ryan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film #18/Task #18
Any winner of the Grand Prix (2nd most prestigious award) at the Cannes Film Festival
Damn. I have been waiting to watch this for a while, but couldn't really rationalize the comedy aspect of a WWII/Concentration Camp type of story. But Begnini absolutely delivers on that. The entire first half of the movie is just a fun romantic comedy romp. You get subtle hints here and there about the upcoming travesty, but the movie pushes that aside to show Begnini making a fool of himself and wooing the woman of his affections.
And then he and his family go to a concentration camp. And what should be a completely somber and dismal affair, is made into a game for the sake of his son. It's just so heartbreaking to watch him continue to convince his son that they're there to play a game and win a tank. Convincing him that they're in the lead, that the other kids are trying to trick him. It's painful to watch as you continue to wait for the other shoe to drop.
What a powerful film. Each time I think WWII can't be mined any further in cinema, I find a new and refreshing take on it.