Agnieszka Holland's EUROPA EUROPA is the fascinating fact-based story of Solomon Perel (Marco Hofschneider), a German Jew who survived the Holocaust by concealing his identity, literally within enemy ranks. When Nazi thugs smash into the Perels' house, 13-year-old Solly manages to flee. Upon his reunion with his family, they head for Poland, hoping to find safety but war soon overcomes that land, and once again Solly is forced to run, this time with his brother. They become separated, however, and ultimately Solly falls into the clutches of the Nazis. He quickly realises he has just one chance for survival: convincing them that he, too, is a pure-blooded Aryan, and hoping that they never find out the truth. Based on Perel's miraculous autobiography, Holland's film is an epic drama that features a moving performance by Hofschneider. Holland uses exquisite pacing to build even greater tension; the further Solly digs himself in with the Nazis, the closer to being exposed he becomes. It is this ironic twist of fate that makes EUROPA EUROPA such a powerful motion picture; the screenplay for this gripping story was nominated for an Academy Award.
This wonderful film by Polish director Agnieszka Holland (Total Eclipse), based on an autobiography by Solomon Perel, concerns a Jewish-German boy who manages to conceal his identity from the Nazis and ends up a member of their Youth Party. An admirably full experience, the film is both black comedy and horror show, with the central character taking the full measure of everyone's perspective on the war and Nazi crimes. --Tom Keogh