Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Last Suit (2017) Film Review
The Last Suit
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
There is little time left now for contemporary Holocaust films. Almost everybody who survived the ghettos and the camps and was old enough to take in what was happening has since succumbed to old age. Some think this is the reason why the far right is gathering strength again in Europe; whatever the reason, films like Pablo Solarz's The Last Suit are needed now more than they have ever been, though whether or not the people with the most to learn from them will ever watch them is another matter.
Miguel Ángel Solá plays Abraham, an ageing Argentinian whose children have decided that he's too old and fragile to remain in the family home so are selling it and dividing up his possessions. At least that's how he sees it - but he never has taken the problem with his leg seriously enough, and if his relatives are a little brusque, who can blame them? He hasn't made many allowances for them over the years. Only one really seems to impress him - the small granddaughter who, before she will appear in a final photo with him, demands several hundred dollars with which to buy a new phone.
Abraham has another relative whom he hasn't spoken to for some time - a daughter living in Spain. He tells others, and perhaps himself, that that's his reason for absconding to Europe. In reality, though he does have an interest in making peace (especially in hearing her apologise to him), it's a different neglected connection that's tugging at him. Seven decades ago, as the Nazis were driven out of Poland, a neighbour saved his life. They said they would meet up again after the war. They never did.
The Europe to which Abraham returns is very different from the one he left. Flashbacks present drab, muted colours, low light, narrow spaces; now he finds himself moving through stations with marble floors and huge glass roofs, thronged with smiling people in bright clothes, and the effect is dizzying. But he was a hunted man then; now he is an elderly man, obviously confused, and strangers do their best to help him. One persists even after, learning she is German, he recoils from her in horror, her instinctive kindness manifesting like an act of atonement for her country's past sins. The gradual breakdown of Abraham's defences makes way for long-withheld warmth but also makes him vulnerable, and as he ventures into the territory that he once fled, the shadows of the past stretch out long arms to reach for him.
A study in the generational damage wrought by the Holocaust, the way pain echoes down the years, The Last Suit is also a beautifully drawn character study with a superb central performance and good work from the supporting cast. Abraham's burden of guilt and his attempts to deny his fear - even as he faces it - make him a sympathetically self-centred character, yet we still get a strong sense of the individual stories of those he meets. Even though aspect of the film are quite formulaic, it's so well delivered that that's easy to forgive. There's so much going on here emotionally that it would be folly to let plot twists get in the way.
Despite the horror it encompasses, this is a film with hope at its core. It may leave audiences in tears but, with its sharp wit and eye for the beauty hidden in the ordinary, it will also remind them of how many things there are to smile about.Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2018