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Reunion

(Jerry Schatzberg, France/Germany/Britain, 1989)


 


Jerry Schatzberg, like several vigorous American directors before him, finally heeded the praise lavished upon him in the European press.

His Reunion is like a composite of a hundred arthouse successes of the past twenty years, moving around the ghosts of filmmakers including Joseph Losey and Sergio Leone.

In particular, it evokes Louis Malle (Lacombe Lucien [1974], Au revoir les enfants [1987]) in its adoption of that most familiar art-cinema subject: crumbling family life and friendship during the rise of a Fascist regime.

With a script by Harold Pinter, this is strictly filmmaking by numbers: the elegiac moments of manly, cultured mateship by a sparkling stream; the foreboding, distant signs of the Nazi atrocities to come; the slow journey of an old man (played by Jason Robards) back through the veils of time, memory and history.

Every aspect of the film – art direction, cinematography, acting – is precisely measured, even excellent. But the sum of this is far too stately and reassuring. The story's ultimate revelation – the moment everything has primed us for – is amazingly inconsequential.

© Adrian Martin June 1990


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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