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One Day You'll Understand (Unrated) ***

Hippolyte Girardot as Victor in One Day You'll Understand. Courtesy of Kino International.
Hippolyte Girardot as Victor in One Day You'll Understand. Courtesy of Kino International.

By Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune

Set in Paris during the 1987 trial of Gestapo leader Klaus Barbie, One Day You’ll Understand reminds us that no matter how many stories emerge from the Holocaust, there will always be more. And some are so deeply buried they may never be told.

The most effective movies about horrors such as the Holocaust find ways to personalize the evil, to bring it into a more graspable scale. Israeli director Amos Gitai (whose previous films include Free Zone and Promised Land) manages that by focusing on one family and a piece of its history that has never before been revealed.

Victor (Hippolyte Girardot) has been feverishly working a puzzle: What happened to his maternal grandparents during World War II? He has assembled piles of documents, photographs and letters, but what he really needs are his mother’s memories of her parents’ lives, the one thing she’s not eager to share with him.

His mother, Rivka (Jeanne Moreau) just wants to continue her comfortable life, surrounded by art and family.

As Victor pushes further into the past, his mother is determined to keep him and his questions at bay. But soon Victor has pieced together a narrative that makes sense factually, if not emotionally.

Director Gitai is known for his spare, lucid style, and his latest work, adapted from an autobiographical novel by Jerome Clement, is no exception. This is not a movie of big, dramatic revelations; in fact, the notionally elusive ”truth” is pretty obvious from the movie’s outset, which makes Victor’s quest less about facts and more about principles. The lack of fireworks, however, doesn’t detract from the story’s quiet power: One Day is a deliberate, sober examination of what people will do to survive — and how they will justify their decisions to future generations.

Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, Dominique Blanc.

Director: Amos Gitai.

Screenwriters: Dan Franck, Amos Gitai, Marie-Jose Sanselme. Based on the book by Jérome Clément.

Producers: Nicole Collet, Amos Gitai, Serge Moati.

A Kino International release. Running time: 89 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Playing at: In Miami-Dade: Intracoastal; in Broward: Sunrise, Deerfield; in Palm Beach: Delray, Mizner Park.