July 2, 2020

THE LAST SUPPER is a Poignant Prelude

THE LAST SUPPER (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Bruno Eyron, Sharon Brauner, Patrick MĹ‘lleken, Mira Elisa Goeres, Michael Degen, Adrian Topol, Daphna Rosenthal. Directed by Florian Frerichs. (2018/83 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀

What makes The Last Supper so poignant - from the very first scene - is the viewer's painful knowledge of what these characters are about to endure.

Aaron Glickstein (Bruno Eyron) is an upper middle-class businessman in Germany. Though he initially appears to be affluent and successful, a potential investor suddenly dies, leaving his finances in jeopardy. But he puts on a brave front as his entire family - including parents and visiting siblings – gathers at his home for a formal dinner that evening. Though we sense some underlying tension, the meal begins cordially, at least until Aaron learns his daughter, Leah (Mira Elisa Goeres), wants to move to Palestine with friends, something the rest of the family apparently knew. This opens up the floodgates for heated political debate, especially after son Michael (Patrick MĹ‘lleken) declares his allegiance to the new German chancellor.

However, the year is 1933, the Glicksteins are Jewish and the new chancellor is Adolf Hitler. While he has no love for Hitler, Aaron doesn't take the Nazis that seriously, nor do some other family members who believe they'll be just another short-lived government. But Leah fears what's coming and she's not-so-much moving to Palestine as fleeing Germany. Conversely, Michael has bought into Hitler's rhetoric and anti-semitic propaganda, ready to forsake his Jewish heritage to join the Nazis, even if he's ostracized from the family.

Everybody loves Papa Glickstein's endless supply of dirty limericks.
Presented as three “courses,” The Last Supper is a quietly unnerving look at pre-WWII Germany as seen through a family who'll be among the most devastated by it. Some are certain Hitler's appointment to chancellor doesn't bode well, but none of them can possibly fathom the atrocities to come. Because of this, the Glicksteins' dinner conversation is often heartbreaking. Though he's headstrong and guilty of putting work before family, Aaron generates the most empathy, perhaps because his life is already unraveling...not just his business, but his relationship with his family. To a certain extent, we even fear for Michael, blindsided by his own resentment over the Treaty of Versaille's impact on Germany. Even if he does end up surviving, he'll live with the horrifying realization of being on the wrong side of history (which would make an interesting story itself).

The film comes to an emotionally resonant conclusion with a final scene that's as touching as it is distressing. The Glicksteins represent countless Jewish families torn devastated by the Holocaust. Watching them gather one last time – oblivious to the inevitable – instills a feeling of helplessness in the viewer that makes The Last Supper a quietly powerful film.


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