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June 1940. German troops are advancing on Paris. Odile, a widowed teacher, succumbs to the widespread panic and, with her two children, joins the exodus from the city. Philippe is on the cusp of adolescence, Little Cathy knows only that they are going South. After fifty kilometres, a German plane attacks, decimating the helpless refugees. Odile and her children lose everything. A shaven-headed youth appears from nowhere and leads them away from the carnage. His name is Yvan, he's seventeen years old. Cut off from the rest of the world and living in confined quarters, Odile and Yvan find themselves confronted with their own desires. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
STRAYED is yet another of those tender French films about survival and discovery under the duress of World War II. Based on the novel 'Les Egares' by Gilles Perrault and adapted for the screen by Gilles Taurand, STRAYED is an elegantly honest tale of a small family forced to evacuate Paris during the Nazi invasion and how that disruption in their lives ultimately enhances their view of the world.
Odile (Emmanuelle Beart) is an educated mother of two children, Cathy (Clemence Meyer) and Philippe (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), who has been teaching school and raising the dignity of her family until the war disrupts everything. During a blitz Odile hurries Cathy and Philippe into her car and drives out of Paris to the South to escape the Nazis. Her car breaks down and is burned and in a moment of desperation a young illiterate lad, Yvan (Gaspard Ulliel) from a reformatory offers his help and assists Odile and her family in finding refuge in a deserted country estate. Odile is at first cold to Yvan, but as the children warm to him, and as Yvan captures food for their table, Odile softens, no longer looking at this illiterate young lad as someone beneath her, and begins to teach him how to write and read.
Yvan keeps his past a secret, maintaining a mystery about himself that makes him all the more appealing. In time Odile succumbs to her physical attraction to Yvan and this warmly extended 'family' enjoys the beauty of the French countryside and new home...until the war seems over. Gendarmes visit the house, arrest Yvan as being an escapee from a reformatory, and because Odile and her children are illegally living in another person's home, they are moved to a refugee camp.
The manner in which this story pummels to an end is tense and tender and as directed by Andre Techine, the lessons of living, loving and surviving war are fully explored.
Odile is probably one of the beautiful Beart's finest roles, matched in sensitivity only by Gaspard Ulliel's finely wrought Yvan. The cinematography is breathtaking and the musical score is supportive without disrupting the flow of the film. Highly recommended on every level! Grady Harp
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