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All My Loved Ones


All My Loved Ones

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As Hitler's influence spread and catastrophe loomed on the horizon for Europe's Jews, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton arranged for the safe transport of 669 children from Czechoslovakia to Britain. Director Matej Minac pays tribute to Winton, eventually, in All My Loved Ones, a film set in Czechoslovakia during the final days before WWII. Though inspired by the experiences of Minac's own family, it seems just as heavily influenced by Vittorio De Sica's The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis, another film in which a family takes too long to recognize evil's capacity to sweep away an entire way of life. Coming to that recognition here is the large and colorful Silberstein clan, which is headed by a well-liked doctor (Jirí Bartoska). Having just moved into a stately manor, purchased for a song from a friend who's taking an early opportunity to depart for America, the family watches as its liberties are chipped away bit by bit, a process Minac isn't afraid to literalize with a scene of a projectionist making love as a newsreel of Hitler's invasion spins in the background. All My Loved Ones creates some disquieting moments, highlighting the way the family's formerly agreeable neighbors dust off their anti-Semitism when the tanks roll into town. Still, a situation of such inherent drama only suffers from the director's attempts to intensify it, and eventually, the scenes of professional and personal rejection begin to suffer from an overabundance of pathos. Cue the entrance of Winton, played here by Rupert Graves as a bit of a cardboard saint, without any of Oskar Schindler's pesky moral ambiguity. Acting "because there is a need," Graves steps into the picture to rescue the youngest Silberstein, and then disappears again. The film concludes with footage from a 1988 BBC reunion of the real-life Winton and the children he saved, which makes the rest of the film almost irrelevant: The quiet recognition of a profound act of charity reveals shots of weeping parents and children running after a train as the humble stuff of drama.