Synopsis: After the death of her father, Hannah (Maria Schrader) is worried by her mother Ruth Weinstein (Jutta Lampe)'s erratic behaviour. There's her sudden conversion to the Jewish religion, insisting on the traditional 30 day mourning period for the whole family. She is disapproving of Hannah's South American fiancé Luis (Fedja Van Huet), who had been her father's protégé. Hannah heads for Berlin, where 90-year-old Lena Fischer (Doris Schade), the mysterious woman in an old photograph still lives, to find out the truth about her mother's past. As a young woman then in her twenties, Lena (Katja Riemann) and Ruth (Svea Lohde), then a child, met in the Berlin street of Rosenstrasse, where women were demonstrating against the deportation of their Jewish husbands.
Rosenstrasse provides a unique and distinctly female point of view on Nazi Germany.
Rosenstrasse is the name of a now infamous street in Berlin, where in 1943 during WWII, hundreds of non-Jewish German women gathered outside a prison to protest the detention of their Jewish husbands by the Nazis. It was a brave and ultimately successful demonstration, and this real-life story is the subject of Rosenstrasse, a new film by Margarethe Von Trotta (The Pledge), one of Germany\'s most significant female filmmakers. Von Trotta juxtaposes a present-day story with this historical one, in an attempt to connect the past with the present.
Recently widowed Ruth Weinstein (Jutta Lampe) is in the process of reclaiming her Jewish heritage and orthodoxy, instating a 30-day mourning period for her late husband at her New York apartment where her family gathers from around the globe. This overtly religious behaviour is out of character for Ruth, as is her rejection of Hannah\'s engagement to Luis (Fedja Van Huet) who is South American and non-Jewish. Bewildered and hurt by Ruth\'s apparent retreat into tradition and conservatism, Hannah decides to find out what\'s behind it. She journeys to Berlin where she discovers the truth behind her mother\'s silence and secret past. These insights are gained through flashbacks, where the story of the women of Rosenstrasse is realised.
The historical section of Rosenstrasse is well-executed and powerful, this is where Von Trotta shines as a director and where the film truly excels. Unfortunately the contemporary family drama it is coupled with is not. While the staid, almost TV-like rendering of the present-day storyline is supposed to act as a stylistic counterpoint to the more dramatic and cinematic WWII material, it actually looks and feels amateur by comparison, stifling the life out of the rest of the film. The film is substantially weakened as a result. Which is kind of sad as Rosenstrasse provides a unique and distinctly female point of view on Nazi Germany, and the 1943 scenes, which eventually consume the film, are riveting and moving. Despite its flaws however, Rosenstrasse is nonetheless a fitting companion piece to Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel\'s amazing film about the last days inside Hitler\'s bunker, currently screening.
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