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French Film Festival: Farewell, Mr Haffmann

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Lisa Feyen

DRAMA / FRANCE / 2022 / 116 MIN / M

The legendary Daniel Auteuil gives one of his most superlative screen performances in the gripping new film from writer/director Fred Cavayé, based on the celebrated, multi–Molière Award-winning play.

Occupied Paris, 1941: Jews are instructed to identify themselves by wearing a yellow star. Jeweller Joseph Haffmann (Auteuil), fearing the worst, arranges for his family to flee the city and offers his employee François Mercier (Lellouche) the chance to take over his store until the conflict subsides. But his own attempts to escape are thwarted, and Haffmann is forced to seek his assistant’s protection.

It’s a risky proposition for both men, and one that Mercier’s wife Blanche (a wonderful Sara Giraudeau) is sceptical of. As the couple move in to the Haffmann home, the agreement turns into a Faustian bargain that will forever change the fate of all…

Cavayé masterfully guides the viewer through the world of Vichy France, where lives are irrevocably shaped by the twin scourges of war and the black market. Rich in moral complexity and empathy, with several twists too good to spoil, this is one of the Festival’s major highlights. It’s a must-see.

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