Left Luggage [DVD] (1998)
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In 1970s Antwerp, philosophy student Chaja Silberschmidt (Laura Fraser) takes a job as a nanny in order to support herself. Working for the Orthodox-Hassidic Jewish family, the Kalmans (Jeroen Krabbé and Isabella Rossellini), Chaja takes care of the apparently mute four-year-old Simcha. She finds herself clashing with her overly strict employers, but becomes devoted to Simcha, who begins to speak again under her care.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a very moving but at the same time disturbing story which should be given maximum time by the media again and again even though it is not a new film.
Perhaps then the non-Jewish community might just begin to understand!
This film shares some great similar traits (not just cast) to the film/book 'The Chosen' by Chaim Potok. (Both these movies if re-made would/could be real blockbusters)
Honestly, when I first ordered the DVD, I wasn't sure how this film would turn out, but what a great surprise!
The only negatives for me were the pointless nude shots that really didn't add to the scenes or film's general feel, Although I can understand if the Director was trying to add to the contrast of the Liberal/Orthdox worlds, (for me though if that was the case it didn't work.
The neurotic side of the parents got a little overbearing, probably because we're dropped straight into their lives with little history to help us empathize or understand... HOWEVER! The story itself eases this tension with some powerful moments of pulling us beneath the surface of the characters.
The best thing about this movie has to be the wonderful relationship between 'Chaya', 'Mrs Kalman' and the wonderful little boy 'Simcha'(who really steals the show).
Chaim Topol in my opinion isn't in the movie enough, but his paternal/wise sage role contributes greatly when he appears, and especially helps concrete 'Chaya's role as a secular Jewess who awakens to her roots, rather than a gentile overcoming ignorance for instance. Isabella Rossellini is wonderful, and the distant role of Jeroen Krabbé finally grabs at your heart and pulls you in at a poweful moment during Passover.
Definitely want to read the book.. I hope the ignorance of having not read it won't spoil my enjoyment of a great lesser known film.
I have to say though, we did not enjoy the film, we never really got to "know" the characters, and her parents part in the movie wasn't going anywhere, after all the name of the movie was called after them, it was her dad's "left luggage" that he spent his life trying to find that I thought the movie was going to be about, this is how it opens. But it really focuses on a Jewish family, who are very strict to observe their laws. Chaja goes to work for them as a nanny and challenges them, overstepping her mark more often than not. Chaja herself is a Jew, but wasn't raised religiously. She comes to learn values for herself through looking after 4 year old Simcha.
This film *could* have been a good family film as there was no swearing, but what really ruined it for us were the numerous nude shots, including two scenes of full on female nudity, which bore no point to the film and I can't understand why they were in the film. Frequent mentions of sex and the young womens lifestyles of sleeping with anyone also let the film down for us.
We felt the PG rating was far underestimated and should have been at least a 12, very disappointed with the PG rating.