My Best Friend Anne Frank(Dutch, Netflix)
Starring Josephine Arendsen, Aiko Beemsterboer
Directed by Ben Sombogaart.
Rating: ** ½
This tale of friendship during war and genocide(the Nazi holocaust WAS about race, after all, no matter what Whoopi Goldberg thinks) between two young Jewish girls in 1945 in Amsterdam, suffers from an emotional fatigue. It is way too involved in the process of nailing the emotional bond between the two bright sunny girl s to examine the process of genocidal politics.
So all we get in the way of holocaustic aggression is some bullies with swastikas barking threats like ‘Jew bitch’ at the lineup of women , self consciously scruffy and under-fed.
We are told that they get food in the concentration camp once every three days. But the ladies seem quite at peace looking out for each other, singing Hebrew songs together, etc.And there are shallow designer shots of Hanneli running across the courtyard of the camp dodging the floodlights to throw food over the wall to her beloved best friend.Anne Frank is supposed to be on the other side of the wall.
This is worse than a soap opera.
The entire exercize is redolent with mawkish sentimentality . Whoever thought of this Grimm Fairytale version bonding over the barbed wires must be either a diehard optimist or a disciple of the Whoopi Goldberg school of political naivete.
There is a giddy innocence about the narrative as Hanneli Goslar(Josephine Arendsen) and Anne Frank(Aiko Beemsterboer) bestfriends for life, build a selfcontained world of fluffy comforts and clandestine girlie talk in Amsterdam even as Nazi troops march in their menacing boots on the roads outside.
The two young actresses playing the two friends do their giggly bonding with conviction. But they fail completely to convey the transition into trauma as they are taken into custody .
The scenes at the concentration camp needed more concentration and focus.The images of despair and anxiety are too sporadic and furtive; there is no sense of immediate danger and doom. Fatally , the narrative draws no line between childhood fantasies and the vicious reality of the Nazi politics.
Dithering between fairytale and an obscure fear , My Best Friend Anne Frank is more a tea-party version of the holocaust than any credible documentation of the horror.