History of Love
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History of Love

A decade after its publication, Nicole Krauss’ best-selling novel The History of Love reaches the screen in a sprawling big-budget France-Canada co-production directed by Romanian-born Radu Mihaileanu. Ranging from prewar Poland to Chile and latter-day New York, the movie has something for everyone — and plenty to irritate, too. Neither art house, like most of Midnight Sun Mihaileanu’s previous movies, nor mainstream storytelling, The History of Love casts its net wide and will need astute marketing to recoup its sizeable outlay, estimated at $20 million.

The voiceover to the pre-credit sequence — “Once upon a time there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists” — hints at folk-tale simplicity. Private Life But things rapidly become more complicated as the story of the doomed love affair between shtetl sweethearts Leo Gurski (Mark Rendall) and Alma Mereminski (former Bond girl Gemma Arterton) unfolds. Alma is packed off to New York by her parents, aware of the growing threat from Nazi Germany. When Leo arrives on the scene a few years later, having survived the Nazi invasion, he has kept his promise of remaining true to Alma. But he finds that she, believing him dead, has married and has two children, one with her husband and one the fruit of her idyll with Leo. She extracts a promise from him not to reveal to the boy that he is his father.

Leo’s tribulations as a young man are recounted in parallel with those of his much older self, played by Derek Jacobi — the film’s present day is the year 2006 — an octogenarian and retired locksmith living in a cramped apartment in New York’s Chinatown, the former Storm Boy Lower East Side (he prides himself on being “the last Jew in Chinatown”}.

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IMDb: 6.6

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History of Love