Monday, April 01, 2019

The Samuel Project (2018)

There are many movies about the Holocaust.  Some, like Schindler’s List, treat the topic seriously.  Others, like Life is Beautiful, have a more comedic tone.  The Samuel Project isn’t quite either, although it tends more towards the serious.  It takes place in the present with Eli being given an animation project for his media class in high school.  It’s going to be a big project, so it has to be something important.

Shortly after being given the assignment, Robert, Eli’s father, drops Eli off at the apartment of Samuel, Eli’s grandfather.  When Samuel gets a phone call, grandfather and grandson are off on a road trip to visit a dying friend of Samuel’s.

Actually, she’s more than a friend, although Samuel won’t say much about it.  It takes some prying on Eli’s part, but it turns out that this mysterious friend helped Samuel survive Nazi Germany and get out of the country.  Samuel has found the topic for his project.

The movie doesn’t focus on the Holocaust.  In fact, Samuel is reserved with details.  For survivors, it’s not the kind of thing most people want to talk about.  It was a difficult time for many who survived and carries with it a lot of emotion.

Instead, the movie focuses on Eli trying to put the project together and his attempts to get Samuel to open up about it.  Eli is able to use his phone to record his grandfather and animate scenes around that.  He even enlists the aid of classmate Kasim, who plays the guitar.  The two bond over family.  Eli wants to go into art, but Robert would have him get a stable job.  Kasim is trying to fend off his father’s attempts to get him to take over as a butcher.  They realize that both have fathers that don’t really know them that well.

I don’t see a lot of people rushing to the theater to see this or rent it on DVD.  It seems like the kind of movie you might watch streaming.  I’m not exactly sure where to place it.  It’s definitely not a major blockbuster, but it’s not exactly a Hallmark movie, either.  It’s the kind of thing that could be shown to get people thinking hot just about the Holocaust, but those who lived through it, as well.

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