The widowed Odile (Beart) flees from Nazi occupied Paris with her two children, but when the Germans attack their refugee convoy, the survivors are left with nothing - until Yvan (Ulliel) saves them, taking them deep into a nearby forest. Over time, Odile and Yvan fall in love.
André Téchiné has built his reputation with meticulously told tales centring on the gaining of wisdom. But in this adaptation of Gilles Perrault’s novel The Boy With Grey Eyes, the withholding of truths proves just as significant, as war widow Emmanuelle Béart reluctantly places her trust in young rascal Gaspard Ulliel, after she and her children are stranded in the French countryside during a Nazi air raid.
Ultimately, Béart’s drift into dependent passion with Ulliel feels slightly novelettish. But his relationship with her 13 year-old son (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) is much more intriguing, attuned as it is to Téchiné’s preoccupation with the capricious naivety of youth. Handsomely photographed, this is consistently compelling, but never totally convincing.
Prone to rose-tinted lapses and novelettish contrivances, this is still a consistently intriguing insight into the unspoken suspicions and unholy alliances that dominated life in wartime France.
Reviewed by Patrick Peters