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The Truce (1998)

MPAA Rating: R

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EW's GRADE
B-

Details Limited Release: Apr 24, 1998; Rated: R; Genres: Drama, Historical; With: Massimo Ghini, Rade Serbedzija and John Turturro; Distributor: Miramax Home Video

Left to die in Auschwitz by fleeing Nazis, Italian writer Primo Levi nevertheless summoned the will to survive. Then came the hell of getting home to Turin, via Polish and Russian transit camps, with a body weak from starvation and a soul deadened by horror. (He succumbed to that horror in 1987, when he committed suicide at the age of 67.) Adapting Levi's memoir The Reawakening in The Truce, Italian director Francesco Rosi has made a fervent picture starring a committedly gaunt, intense John Turturro. Yet, disconcertingly, the filmmaker's evident passion is disrupted by moments of banality, sentimentality, and what can only be called movie-ishness as he strings together vignettes of survival — begging for food, relearning to trust, rediscovering sexual desire. (And did Rosi really need a postwar scene in which a penitent German kneels at Levi's feet?) In the face of a tragedy almost beyond comprehension, we're left feeling bad about not feeling enough. B-

Originally posted May 08, 1998 Published in issue #431 May 08, 1998 Order article reprints