Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Friday, 02 November 2012 00:00

Children clash in ‘War of the Buttons’

Children clash in ‘War of the Buttons’ imdb.com
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Director: Christophe Barratier
  • Dates: November 2-8, 2012

In French writer/director Christophe Barratier’s “War of the Buttons,” we find ourselves, spring 1944, in a relatively isolated French village. The Nazis have a dominant presence but remain secondary to the turf wars of two groups of boys. Their battles’ spoils consist of buttons and shoelaces, leaving the vanquished with pants falling down and shirts flapping.

Into this milieu comes Violette, a girl claimed as the godchild of Simone, a local beauty who’s recently returned from Paris. From square one, there’s no question that Violette is Jewish and, therefore, in danger. Factor in a courageous schoolteacher carrying a torch for Simone, a caricature of an S.S. officer, salt-of-the earth villagers, and the sweetest boys despite their conflicts—and the stage is set for a moral tale contrasting the high stakes of real war against child’s play.

French writer Louis Pergaud’s 1912 immensely popular novel serves as the inspiration for the current film, a story first adapted cinematically in 1962 and again in 1994. Times change though the appeal of the universal themes and humane values thankfully endure. Nevertheless, while “War of the Buttons’” heart is securely in the right place, this rendition feels manipulative, awkward, and phony.

First, the rival gangs seldom succumb to base instincts. When events do veer toward the serious, Barratier cuts to the smallest, irresistibly cute boy who overdoes every verbal and nonverbal reaction. It’s like having a Muppet on hand as a mascot delivering comic relief. If this doesn’t spoil the mood, Philippe Rombi’s saccharine music insistently and repeatedly telegraphs how we should feel, leaving little time to consider anything approaching complexity. On the positive side, beautiful countryside does beckon, and the actors deliver committed, professional work, notably director and actor Guillaume Canet as the schoolteacher, Laetitia Casta as Simone, Ilona Bachelier as Violette, and Jean Texier as LeBrac, leader of one of the primary gang. 

An opening title to “War of the Buttons” announces: Inspired by true stories of the resistance. The enterprise is noble, but the approach undermines those admirable, courageous efforts with this simplistic interpretation. In French with English subtitles. At Landmark’s Tivoli Cinema for one week only, through November 8th.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends

April
Monday
20

KDHX Get Down to Business Series: Make Networking Not Suck: The artist as entrep...

Get Down to Business is a series of professional development presentations geared towards the St. Louis arts community. Presented in partnership with St. Lou Fringe, "Make Networking Not Suck: The artist as entrepreneur"...


April
Monday
20

Zappa Plays Zappa with Dweezil Zappa

Zappa Plays Zappa Doors: 7pm | Show: 8pm $25ADV/$30DOS | $50 VIP (includes early entry soundcheck party and poster) All Ages Welcomed by KDHX, Schlafly, and Vintage Vinyl   Ticket information


April
Tuesday
21

KDHX Discovery Series: Sean Watkins, Joseph Lemay

Sean Watkins co-founded Nickel Creek when he was just 12 years old, kickstarting a career that's taken him from the stage of the Grammy Awards to the top of the bluegrass charts. Along the way, he's become an award-winning...


Online Users

5 users and 10615 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 writing an essay Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook