The year is 1943, and Julien returns to boarding school where he meets a new, rather mysterious boy named Bonnet. Julien doesn't like the new boy at first, but gradually their mutual love of books and an exciting game of capture the flag cement their friendship. Life is good at the school and, except for having no heat and meager meals, the war has little effect on the students until the day the Gestapo comes to class.
This film is based on an event in director/writer Louis Malle's childhood, one that obviously haunted him decades later. It is a war movie for people who hate war movies, focusing on the ups and downs and youthful hijinks of boys at school, until the sudden and shocking conclusion. The boys who play Julien and Bonnet are both naturals and give sincere, touching performances. The war era is faithfully reproduced and it feels like a movie made in the forties, instead of 1987. In French with subtitles. Heartily recommended.