War tale well worth a look

War tale well worth a look

All The Light We Cannot See is an above average mini-series set in Nazi-occupied France

War tale well worth a look
Aria Mia Loberti as Marie-Laure in All The Light We Cannot See. (Photos © Netflix)

From director Shawn Levy, known for his work on Stranger Things, comes a poignant adaptation of the beloved war novel All The Light We Cannot See. This four-part mini-series, now available on Netflix, brings to life the harrowing tale of a blind French teenager and a German soldier whose paths intertwine in the midst of World War II.

Marie-Laure (Nell Sutton, Aria Mia Loberti), a blind French girl, and her father Daniel LeBlanc (Mark Ruffalo) embark on a perilous journey to flee German-occupied Paris, carrying with them a legendary diamond that they must keep from falling into the hands of the relentless Nazis. Their escape is haunted by a cruel Gestapo officer with sinister motives for obtaining the precious stone.

Seeking refuge in the town of Saint-Malo, they find shelter with a reclusive uncle who transmits clandestine radio broadcasts as part of the French Resistance. Marie's destiny takes an unexpected turn when she crosses paths with Werner (Louis Hofmann), a brilliant teenager conscripted by Hitler's regime to track down illegal broadcasts. However, Werner discovers a secret connection to Marie, rekindling his faith in humanity and the possibility of hope.

Louis Hofmann as German soldier Werner.

Loberti's portrayal of an older version of Marie is nothing short of extraordinary, and she stands out as the series' shining star. Despite being her debut acting role, Loberti's performance feels entirely natural, and she commands the screen with an enchanting presence. Her charisma, keen intuition, and natural comedic timing make her character engaging and relatable in every scene.

The chemistry between Sutton and the seasoned actors Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie further elevates the series, despite their somewhat unconvincing French accents. Hofmann, recognised for his role in German mystery series Dark, delivers an impressive performance as Werner, portraying the young radio operator who reluctantly serves the Nazis. Hofmann effectively conveys innocence and trepidation, allowing the audience to empathise with his character's internal struggle and fear.

The cinematography in All The Light We Cannot See is nothing short of stunning. The setting of Saint-Malo, a walled coastal town, is captured in all its glory, resembling a sprawling castle surrounded by water. The visuals provide a stark contrast between the town's beauty and the tragedy it is experiencing during the war. The shots of the sunsets dipping below homes and buildings create a hauntingly beautiful landscape that underscores the town's plight.

The story of this series, however, follows a somewhat predictable trajectory. While some elements are intended to be surprising, the plot's development lacks complexity, making it relatively easy to foresee the unfolding events. Nonetheless, the characters and their interactions are so compelling that they overshadow the predictability of the narrative. Although I haven't read the original book, it's clear that the series condenses the characters' backstories and focuses on a concise narrative that vividly depicts the grim backdrop of war while infusing it with themes of hope and determination.

Each episode runs for about an hour, making it a substantial commitment for viewers. However, the series maintains an efficient story progression, delivering urgency in moments of anxiety or excitement and offering quieter interludes for character development. A notable strength of the series is the time it devotes to Werner's backstory, shedding light on his upbringing and how he became entangled in the Nazi regime. This approach fosters sympathy and a deeper understanding of his character. All The Light We Cannot See is a moving War drama set against the backdrop of a war-torn French town. The stellar performances of Laurie, Ruffalo, Hofmann and the breakout star Aria Mia Loberti carry the series, even if some accents are less convincing. While the plot may be somewhat predictable, the true allure of the story lies in the powerful words shared across the airwaves, offering hope and solace in a tumultuous time. This mini-series is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit amid the darkest of circumstances, reminding us that even in the bleakest moments, there is still "light we cannot see".

  • All The Light We Cannot See
  • Starring Aria Mia Loberti, Hugh Laurie, Mark Ruffalo, Louis Hofmann
  • Directed by Shawn Levy
  • Now streaming on Netflix
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