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“Waiting for Anya” Self-Sacrificing and Courageous




Review by John Delia

Having seen many true stories on the plight of the Jews in different lands, you would think there would be a lot of repetition. But the true stories are so many that filmmakers could fill theaters with unending peeks into the horrors of the Nazi’s and those that were afraid to help. This script based on a real happening called Waiting for Anya fits in the category of selflessness and courage. The film has a the elements of others that fit the mold of Waiting for Anya, but the way it is approached here by Ben Cookson, turns the story into a drama that so engrossing that its worth watching. Another thing that separates this film from the others is surprising historical content that Waiting for Anya reveals.

“Summer 1942. The World is at War. Following the fall of France to Hitler’s Armies, the country is divided in two. Paris and the North are overseen by a German Military Administration. Forced deportations have begun…”

(Center) Noah Schnapp as Jo in the drama WAITING FOR ANYA, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

The day is gloomy as the train waits at a station in France. There is already a train filling their cars with Jews wearing the yellow Star of David. There’s screaming as children are separated from their mothers and fathers. One man who has a daughter named Anya crawls under the train and at that moment a passenger train pulls into the station on the opposite tracks. He quickly grabs his daughter and goes to the one of the passenger cars handing Anya to one of the passengers through a doorway.

The scene movies to The South of France that has remained free from Nazi interference. There in the village of Lescun in the mountains of the Pyrenees the villagers continue to manage their farms and sheep not bothered by the war raging in Europe. But, as things would have it, the progression of the Nazis is about to get wider.

Noah Schnapp as Jo and Gilles Marini as Papa in the drama WAITING FOR ANYA, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

Jo (Noah Schnapp), a young sheep herder for his father’s farm, has been free of worry. One day while sitting on a hill overlooking the flock a bear comes across Jo and his flock. His dog tries to stave it off the huge animal, but although the dog is valiant in allowing Joe to get away, things do not go well for the canine. It’s a symbolic sign of things to come for both Jo’s family and the whole village of Lescun. When Jo goes looking for his dog he meets Papa (Gilles Marini) a mysterious stranger from a nearby house in the mountains. It’s a chance meeting that will turn into a heartfelt true story of bravery, defiance of the Nazis and the smuggling of children to safety.

The acting is very good and I especially liked the performances by Anjelica Huston as Horcada a Jew living in hiding, Jean Reno a stalwart villager and especially Noah Schnapp who plays Jo. At just 16 he carries the weight of the film that includes most of the dialogue, some action and the empathy that is drawn from the other characters. I like the way he blends in with the villagers and holds his own among the greats like Huston and Reno. Your youngsters will recognize him as Will Byers in the TV Series “Stranger Things” and a winner of a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of that ensemble.

(L-R Forefront) Tomas Lemarquis as Leutnant and Thomas Kretschmann as Korporal in the drama WAITING FOR ANYA, a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

Waiting for Anya has not been rated, but does contain violence, racial slurs, language, smoking. Imature children can see the film with a portent, but the older the child the better understanding of the film’s content.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A heartfelt film that’s compelling. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast:  Anjelica Huston, Sadie Frost, Jean Reno, Noah Schnapp, Tomas Lemarquis, Thomas Kretschmann, Gilles Marini
Directed and co-written by: Ben Cookson
Genre: Drama, War
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains violence, racial slurs, language, smoking
Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.
Opening Date: February 7, 2020
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment
Released in: Theaters, VOD, Digital HD

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