The Passerby ★★★

La passante du Sans-Souci / The Passerby (Jacques Ruffio, 1982) 6/10

The sublime Romy Schneider plays two roles in her last film shot while she was undergoing great trauma in her personal life which led to accute depression and an alcohol problem. The production shut down when she broke her leg and then had to have kidney surgery. Her 14-year old son died after impaling himself on a fence. It was only after Simone Signoret's insistence that she returned to finish this suspended production. She completed the film but died of a heart attack a week after the film's premiere. A prominent member of a humanitarian organization, a jew and a pacifist (Michel Piccoli), shoots in cold blood a South American diplomat much to the surprise and horror of his beloved wife (Romy Schneider). During the trial that ensues the truth is revealed. In flashbacks we get to see his childhood during the war. The Nazis kill his father and break his leg. He is given shelter by an anti-fascist (Helmut Griem) and his wife (Romy Schneider) who look after the child with a lot of love. Realizing that his days are numbered he manages to send his wife and the boy to Paris. He is arrested and sent to a camp while his wife desperately waits for his return. To make ends meet she works as a cabaret singer in a sleazy club and sleeps with a Nazi to try and get information about her husband. When the husband is released and brought back the Nazi has both husband and wife murdered. The young boy thus loses his "parents" a second time but will get his revenge in the future. Melodramatic story is erratic with a bittersweet and ironic twist at the end. Schneider gives a beautifully nuanced performance and was posthumously awarded a Cesar award nomination. There is also a memorable cameo by the great Maria Schell as another victim of the Nazi menace.