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In Tomorrow Is My Turn, writer-director Andre Cayette and a magnificent cast have created a movie which contains scenes of spare dialogue that are among the most moving I have ever seen. The film deals with two kinds of people: those with simple and pure desires who never lose sight of the human reality of experiences such as love and war, and those who disregard that reality, creating unhappiness for themselves and others.
The movie's complex plot deals with the experiences in World War II of two men who are thrown together as war prisoners doing forced labor in a small German village. One is a successful journalist who wants to fight in order to prove himself. "What am I looking for?" he asks. "Baptism by fire. I want to see what it's like when they really turn the heat on."
The other is a simple and inarticulate pastry-chef who seems to have no other reason for fighting except his father-in-law. "We must kill all the Boches," his father-in-law tells him. All?" he asks, amazed. "Well, anyway, as many as possible."
Both the journalist, Jean, and the pastry-chef, Roger, are employed by the same sympathetic family which refuses to share the village's hatred of the French. Jean thinks only of escape, even if it means disgracing the family's young daughter; Roger refuses to join him at the expense of the family which has befriended them.
The movie follows the separate careers of the two men: Jean becomes a hero of the French Resistance while Roger stays on in Germany eventually becoming almost a member of the family he works for. At the war's end they meet again in Paris, where each must fit his former life to his German experience.
The power of Tomorrow Is My Turn lies in the film's actors, who from leads to minor roles are all beautifully cast. As Jean, Georges Riviere brilliantly combines sophistication with an underlying need to prove himself in a role which--the film's only flaw--unfortunately was not developed as far as it should have been.
As the innocent girl whom Jean betrays to gain his freedom, Cordula Trantow is beyond superlatives. Largely because of her complete naturalness, her seduction and betrayal by Jean is easily the best scene in the movie.
The crucial and most difficult role is Roger, the inarticulate pastry-chef who by the movie's end attains almost saint-like dignity. Charles Aznavour's characterization completely succeeds in making Roger believable without being either irritatingly simple or unworldly.
Cayette's direction reflects his concern for simplicity--clearly he believes that visible traces of the director should be suppressed. He avoids acrobatic photography and specious moralizing and presents his movie with wonderful honesty and realism. Every setting seems perfectly correct, yet the background never distracts attention from the actors. His photography is direct, only occasionally adding a touch of subtle decoration to emotions it portrays.
The simplicity of Cayette's direction is mirrored by the simplicity of his script, especially in Roger's speeches. The film's fine acting lends great beauty and naturalness to words which out of context would seem flat and colorless. By reversing the practice of too many modern directors and giving his film back to its actors, Cayette has created a memorable movie.
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