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Germany 2002
Directed by
Ben Sombogaart
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

Twin Sisters

Synopsis: Lotte and Anna are only six years old when their parents die and they are forcefully separated. Lotte, ill with tuberculosis, goes to a loving home with wealthy relatives in Holland while Anna stays in Germany and lives on a farm with her aunt and uncle who are uneducated and uncaring. The girls are prevented from contacting each other. Ten years later, as war approaches, Lotte falls in love with David, a young Jewish musician, while Anna is caught up in the madness that is Nazi Germany. When contact is finally made between the twins, it remains to be seen if the gulf between their upbringings can ever be bridged.

The time frame of Twin Sisters spans more than sixty years, with an engrossing structure that encompasses Anna and Lotte as both young girls and old women, each character being played by three different actresses, all of whose performances are splendid. The interplay of past and present is cleverly used by Sombogaart to keep the audience engaged.

Another powerful aspect of this film is the insightful and non-judgemental stance it takes on the Nazi phenomenon, encouraging us to challenge our preconceptions. For example, the character of SS officer, Martin, lets us see the human being and reluctant conscript, behind the uniform. The seemingly “good” family in Holland has its own darker side, while Anna and Lotte are portrayed in such a considered way that our sympathies alternate. It is not until we come to the film’s powerful denoument that we finally see the fully-rounded picture.

Although cinema has been swamped with ‘Holocaust’ films, Twin Sisters is a pleasant change, coming at the subject from a less direct angle, with a more personal story at the centre rather than the broader reaching horrific overview. Good too, to see a certain level of reconciliation (perhaps?) between Holland and Germany. One negative, that appears early on in the film is the overwhelming score which is hardly needed to heighten emotions in an already fraught situation.




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