A master of storytelling, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, best known for award-winning films, The Lives of Others (2006) and The Tourist (2010), brings us Never Look Away, the story of an artist struggling to find his voice while living in Dresden under Nazi occupation.
Loosely based on the artist Gerhard Richter, there is not one superfluous moment in this spellbinding narrative.
In the opening scene, we meet young Kurt Barnert, (Tom Schilling), staring down a sculpture while the docent declares all modern art criminal decadence.
At art school, Kurt meets the beautiful Ellie Seeband (Paula Beer), daughter of a Nazi collaborator. The audience comes along for the ride as the couple fall in love and escapes to the West, moments before the wall is constructed.
Haunted by memories of past atrocities, Kurt ultimately discovers his artistic voice by facing the truth of his traumas, eyes wide open.
The lesson for us and the reason for seeing this film is to never look away from our past struggles. Acknowledgment leads to an authentic self, free from the constraints put upon us by family and society.
Never Look Back opens in San Francisco February 15