This memoir of a childhood spent in early 70s France amid a constellation of lefty political revolutionaries can’t resist emotional anachronisms. Each dramatically important moment is punctuated by an adult’s revisionist memory and bracketed with a query, functioning as a thesis statement, from saucer-eyed protagonist Anna: “Dad, what’s group solidarity?” Incidentally, the Dad in Julie Gavras’s life was legendary director and renowned lefty Costa-Gavras.
In the case of precocious Anna, a child of privilege who’s a de facto reactionary by virtue of her self-centered age, the questions lobbed at her newly radicalized parents carry with them an accusatory subtext. Sometimes kids say the most damning things.
The tension between a budding bourgeois child, who uses a knife and fork to cut her fruit, and parents who travel to Allende’s Chile as foot soldiers in a revolution, promises fertile dramatic possibilities that the film allows us to glimpse only briefly as it teeters between sentiment and sanctimony. Secondary characters are all metaphorical embodiments of imperial aggression (a maid is from Vietnam — where people get napalmed) and the art direction bleeds red in sympathy with its earnest bourgeois Marxist protagonists. It’s an approach that unfortunately draws increasing attention to itself, and away from the more interesting questions it raises.