Adira

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Adira Movie Poster Image
Earnest WWII tale of Jewish child separated from parents.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 80 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Recognizes the ability of even the most vulnerable (in this case, a child) to summon courage and resourcefulness to survive. Reminds that the pain of wartime is not restricted to those who perish; in particular, the horrific nature of the Holocaust meant the destruction of the Jewish family unit as it existed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adira is an exemplary model of fortitude, resilience, intelligence, and faith despite the extraordinary life she is forced to live. Time and again, she nearly succumbs to the emotional and physical peril to which she is subjected, then reasserts her will and desire to live. Nazis are irredeemably cruel and vicious.

Violence

Instances of deadly gunplay occur. Two scenes show heartless Nazi soldiers executing civilians. Suspense and fear for the protagonist's life is a part of multiple sequences; in one instance a sadistic Nazi officer attempts to rape her.

Sex

An embrace. In one scene, the surprised young heroine discovers she is menstruating.

Language

One "hell." Nazis virulently insult Jews. From behind, two Nazis are seen peeing. Girl vomits twice.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An anguished teen tries to down a bottle of whiskey.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Adira is the story of one young teen who secretly watches as her parents are captured by Nazi soldiers, then flees for her life to the German countryside, where she awaits rescue alone. This story is meant to personalize and stand in for the more than one-and-a-half million Jewish children who were forcibly separated from their families during the Holocaust. Because Adira's family has emigrated to Germany from England, the vast majority of the spoken dialogue is in English, with some subtitles used for the German players. An anguished teen tries to down a bottle of whiskey. A sadistic Nazi officer attempts to rape Adira. Nazis virulently insult Jews, and there is one "hell." The film is suspenseful throughout, with several violent scenes depicting Nazi soldiers executing civilians with gunfire. Adira's time in the forest periodically finds her in perceived jeopardy from both humans and animals. Disturbing content, the cruelty of the violence, and a scene in which Adira discovers that she is menstruating makes it best-suited for teens and up.

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What's the story?

It's May 1941 in Germany. ADIRA (Andrea Fantauzzi), a young girl, is terrified when members of the Nazi Gestapo arrive at her family home to arrest her devoted parents. In anticipation of just such a moment, Adira is carefully hidden, armed with a few supplies and explicit instructions on how to escape from the city and await rescue. Innocent and vulnerable, the frightened young teen makes her way to the designated forest shelter, but to her dismay, help doesn't come. As the long days turn into weeks, then months, then years, Adira must rely upon the few provisions left in the shelter and her own wits to survive. Peace comes only from her memories of the family she loves and her optimism that one day they'll be reunited. The Adira who is introduced in the film's opening scenes is unrecognizable as the story makes its way to 1944. Then, unaware that her long wait is nearly over, the more mature teen Adira comes upon another renegade wanderer, a British soldier (Seth Andrew Macchi), who becomes her ally. It's only a matter of time before the two must once again face the diabolic presence of the Nazi regime.

Is it any good?

Well-intentioned and heartfelt, this attempt to capture the overwhelming disruption of young Jewish lives during World War II falls short as cinematic art. Even a seasoned filmmaker would find it difficult to keep an audience engaged as one young character holds center frame for a great portion of the story. Given a very low budget, an inexperienced (but game) actress, as well as the challenge of sustaining "years" in an isolated woods and keeping it interesting, this movie's two novice directors too often call upon conventional situations and obvious emotions. Furthermore, some of the story elements simply don't feel plausible (for example, two Nazis are seen patrolling a large expanse of forest for what they say has been three weeks, during which "we've only killed two Jews"). Still, kudos to the filmmakers for attempting to shine a light on tragic events that shouldn't be forgotten. For mature teens only.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the advantages of telling the story of many through the eyes of one. How does Adira's singular story enrich an audience's emotional understanding of what happened to an entire generation of European-Jewish children?

  • Making most of a movie in the forest with only one character on camera presented a distinct challenge for the filmmakers. Which film techniques did they use to meet that challenge? Do you think they were successful?

  • Both documentary and fictional movies offer filmgoers an exceptional opportunity to discover and experience real historical moments. How much truth should audiences expect from these films? Why is it important to question or broaden the information taken in with material from other sources (for example, reading, schoolwork, and research)?

Movie details

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