One Day You'll Understand
B

One Day You'll Understand

Early in Amos Gitai's adaptation of Jérôme Clément's autobiographical novel Plus Tard, Tu Comprendras (a.k.a. One Day You'll Understand), businessman Hippolyte Girardot putters around his opulent office, sorting papers, while the radio broadcasts testimony from the trial of former Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie. It's 1987, and the Barbie trial has all of France in a reflective mood, reconsidering the parts they or their parents played during the Nazi occupation, and whether they could've—or should've—done more to ward off the encroaching evil. Girardot gets so stirred up that he confronts his mother Jeanne Moreau when he finds a document his father once signed declaring his family to be "Aryan." Girardot wants to know whether that made his parents collaborators, even though his sister insists that those kinds of declarations were compulsory, and his wife Emmanuelle Devos warns, "You can't change history."

One Day You'll Understand is as slow-paced as Gitai's films usually are, and the characters are as typically one-dimensional, existing primarily to embody a problem or a point of view. But the film is also steeped in deep sorrow, and when Moreau breaks down crying on Yom Kippur while trying to explain herself to her grandkids, One Day reaches an emotional level well above Gitai's typical remove. Girardot too is compelling, as he picks through the World War II-era souvenirs in his family's home and wonders which of them might be gifts from the Nazis, or as he flips through photo albums, looking for deeper meanings in the cars his parents drove, the clothes they wore, and the places they visited. After he's spent most of a weekend morning obsessing and worrying, Girardot rounds up Devos and their kids and heads out for an afternoon in the country, enjoying his own privilege without wringing his hands too much about how he attained it. But as the film's title implies, someday he might connect the dots.

Filed Under: Film

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