A breathtaking animated journey into an artist’s life during the Holocaust

Charlotte is a breathtaking animated film that painfully tells the tragic journey of a visionary artist. Charlotte Salomon’s “Life? Or Theater?” consists of nearly a thousand paintings depicting her memory of a shocking upbringing. It is the largest work of art created by a Jew during the Holocaust. Charlotte Salomon’s artistic gift, born in Germany of a wealthy family, documented the Nazi takeover and the discovery of dark secrets in her lineage. The film sublimely uses her art as a transition between scenes. The narrative occasionally stumbles with a time-focused confidence. But prisons in general with a deep emotional connection to its subject.


We first see Charlotte Salomon (Keira Knightley) in the 1943 Côte d’Azur, France. She gives that kind of Dr. Moridius (Henry Czerny) a suitcase with treasured paintings. The film flashes back to Berlin in 1933. A younger Charlotte remembers her mother’s death as a child. An ingenious painter and sketch artist, her doctor father, Albert (Eddie Marsan), and the singer, stepmother, Paula (Helen McCrory), try to get her a job as a tailor apprentice. Lotte, as she is affectionately called, is good with her hands. Paula warns her that a life in the arts is difficult. Charlotte ignores her parents. She is admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts, a great achievement for a Jew in an increasingly racist Germany.

Several weeks later on a trip to Italy with her grandparents, Grossmama (Brenda Blethyn) and Grosspapa (Jim Broadbent), Charlotte meets Ottile Moore (Sophie Okonedo). The American heir is impressed with Charlotte’s talent and spirit. Charlotte returns to a Berlin overtaken by Nazi ideology. Jews have become the primary target of the German government. On Crystal Night, The Night of Broken Glass in 1938, a terrified Charlotte and Paula stand helpless as Albert is taken. Her father’s trials force drastic action. Albert decides to send Charlotte to France; where Ottile Moore houses Jewish children and refugees. Charlotte leaves her fearsome home to a beautiful paradise. But life on the French Riviera is not an escape. Her family’s hidden tragedies and the evil Nazis follow.

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Animation characterized by fantastic paintings

Charlotte’s story is told with relatively straightforward animation characterized by her amazing paintings. This visual contrast serves a key purpose. Charlotte’s growing age is filled with grief. But she has moments of joy. To find love, friendships and expressions in her work. She is surrounded by a terrible prejudice that develops into deadly violence. Charlotte’s teachers recognize her enormous skills, but degrade her as a Jew. The paintings serve as vivid snapshots of her encounters. Instructors Tahir Rana and Éric Warin masterfully incorporate them into inflection points. Charlotte matures in a place that hates her existence. These are powerful moments that carry the weight of the film.

Charlotte ebb and flow with its point-shaped structure. At this point, Charlotte was here doing specific things with just these people. Tahir Rana and Éric Warin should have been more flexible in the delivery of the action. A biopic should illustrate important events. Charlotte lays them out too directly. This Wikipedia-like execution dulls some of the artistic in better parts of the film.

Charlotte includes shocking revelations that were recently revealed after decades. I give the filmmakers the credit for not letting go of them. Her struggles, how she faced them, good and bad, are an integral part of understanding a complex young woman in a terrible time. The last act of the film is heartbreaking.

Marion Cotillard gives voice to Charlotte in the French version of the film. It is also the latest performance of the brilliant British actress Helen McCrory. Charlotte is produced by January Films, Balthazar Productions, Walking The Dog and Téléfilm Canada. It will have a limited theatrical release in the United States on April 22 from Good Deed Entertainment.

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