Climaxing at a shiva whose guest list is as multicultural as the wedding reception in Rachel Getting Married, Amos Gitai's One Day You'll Understand is a small, tough, infinitely tender film about coming to grips with the past, even if the past isn't your own personal history. A partial return to form for Israeli director Amos Gitai after several missteps (2005's tone deaf Free Zone among them), Understand is worth seeing, if just for the privilege of witnessing two ineffable divas of French cinema - the legendary Jeanne Moreau and Arnaud Desplechin muse Emmanuelle Devos - paired for the first time.
Moreau plays Parisian grande dame Rivka, the elderly mother of Victor (Hippolyte Girardot) and Tania (Dominique Blanc). Victor is frustrated by Rivka's unwillingness to share her memories of the Holocaust, particularly after discovering a wartime document signed by his father attesting to his Aryan identity. (The Jewish Rivka had converted to Catholicism after marrying Victor and Tania's father.) Compounding Victor's need to know the truth about his family's past is the nationally televised trial of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie (the film takes place in the summer of 1987). While Victor's wife Fran�oise (Devos) sympathizes with his identity crisis - is he a Catholic or a Jew? - she also respects Rivka's decision to bury the past along with a treasure trove of family mementos that have turned her apartment into a veritable tchotchke museum.
Gitai plays his emotionally charged material as close to the vest as Rivka herself, and like his steely protagonist, he doesn't give up secrets easily. Except for a clumsily inserted WW II flashback - the symbolism of the white rabbit is rather opaque - One Day You'll Understand is a moving and eloquent testimony to the survival instincts of an entire generation whose lives were forever scarred by the Holocaust.
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