Movie, Reviews

“Fanny’s Journey” an Amazing Escape to Freedom

 

The courageous and compelling true story Fanny’s Journey (le Voyage de Fanny) takes you on a journey during WWII that grabs its audience early on and doesn’t let go until the credits role. It’s as much inspiring as it is dauntless, featuring a fine cast of youngsters that should touch your heart and remind you that heroism can come in small packages.

During World War II the Nazi’s attempted to carry out their evil plan to exterminate all Jews, even beyond the borders of the German Empire. Invading France, Jewish parents of children found themselves about to be overcome. Entrusting their children to various organizations that formed shelters for the youngsters, they were able to prolong the inevitable, but not forever. With the German’s coming into France and taking over, even French police were commissioned to ferret out all Jews and round them up for transport by the Nazis.

Fanny Ben-Ami (Léonie Souchaud) and her two younger sisters Georgette (Juliane Lepoureau) and Erika (Fantine Harduin) try not to look afraid in a train station in FANNY’S JOURNEY

This story begins in 1941 at one of those shelters with families handing off their children to safe keeping until they could return. One such family entrusted their young daughter Fanny Ben-Ami (Leonie Souchaud) and her two younger sisters Georgette (Juliane Lepoureau) and Erika (Fantine Harduin) to a camp in France. Two years later we find 13-year-Old Fanny and her sisters writing a letter back to her mother that they are well, but that they cannot leave the grounds because the Germans have taken over their area in France.

Mrs Forman (Cecile de France) looks around the train car for French Police in FANNY’S JOURNEY

Weeks later the French police inform the shelter that they must give up any of the children in the camp that are Jewish. Mrs. Forman (Cecile de France), head of the shelter takes a bus load of kids with her to be settled in Megeve, France for their first step to get the children into Switzerland. Transferred to a train, the children start their long trip. At a station stop the Germans come to inspect the train prompting Forman to separate from the group.

Director Lola Doillon goes over a scene with Leonie Souchaud as Fanny in FANNY’S JOURNEY

Courageously young Fanny takes charge of a group of 9 children and makes an attempt to take them to Switzerland for survival from the Nazi’s. Director Lola Doillon worked with the real Fanny Ben-Ami to bring the film to life. Although the film has been deemed a work of fiction, all the incidents in the movie are true. Her ability to catch the pathos and desire to be free from Nazi and Vichy imprisonment and even death on the faces of the actors is an amazing achievement. Her film is a reminder that it can happen again, but maybe this time with worse results.

Fanny’s Journey has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains some violence, peril and evil despotic connotations. The film should be safe for families, but the very young and immature may not understand some of the reasons for the peril involved.

FINAL ANALYSIS: An exceptional well-acted and directed film of bravery and courage

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Leonie Souchaud, Cecile de France, Fantine Harduin, Juliane Lepoureau, Ryan Brodie, Anais Meiringer, Lou Lambrecht, Igor van Dessel, Malonn Levana, Lucien Khoury, Stephane De Groodt, Elea Korner, Alice D’Hauwe, Jeremie Petrus 
Directed by: Lola Doillon
Genre: War-Drama, Foreign, French
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, Some perilous moments
Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Distributed by: Menemsha Films
Released in: French with English Subtitles

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com