Directed by: Polly Steele
Rating 3.5 stars
If you’re a parent feeling like you’ve been doing a slightly less than stellar job as of late, you can usually take comfort in the fact that it could always be worse.
You might have been a bit impatient, you might have dropped the ball on a few occasions and you might feel like you’ll never figure out parenting but chances are you haven’t abandoned your four-year-old daughter in order to become a guard at the infamous Auschwitz death camp.
Such is the story of Helga Schneider, a German woman whose mother did just that and whose experience Let Me Go is loosely based on.
Let Me Go follows Helga (Juliet Stevenson) as she deals with the longstanding effects of her mother’s abandonment of 1941. Set in the year 2000, the film also details the effects of this abandonment on Helga’s daughter, Beth (Jodhi May) and granddaughter, Emily (Lucy Boynton), who up until this point had remained blissfully unaware of the life history of their (great) grandmother Traudi (Karin Bertling), who they believe to be dead.
When Helga receives a letter telling her that Traudi is close to death, Helga shares the truth with Emily who then volunteers to accompany her to Vienna to meet her dying great-grandmother.
While the film itself struggled to capture and hold my attention, I was drawn in by some strong acting performances – of Juliet Stevenson and Karin Bertling in particular. The reluctance of Stevenson’s character to acknowledge her mother as that and Bertling’s character’s eventual desperation for her daughter to do so showed the emotional scars of Traudi’s desertion, even nearly 60 years on, and not just on Helga, but her daughter and granddaughter too.