APRIL 20, 2018 -- French Canadian director Christian Duguay's latest film is the second adaptation of Joseph Joffo's true story "Un Sac de Billes" (A Bag of Marbles). It is the recounting of existing in German occupied France during World War II buy two young Jewish boys who were set out by their parents to avoid concentration camp.


The memoir was originally adapted by French director Jacques Doillon ("Rodin") in 1975 to no applause. Duguay's has been well received as it premiered in France in 2017 and has made it around the art-house theater venues and Jewish Film festivals. He cast Dorien Le Cleck and Batyste Fleurial in the lead roles as Joseph and Maurice Joffo.

Their parents Roman (Patrick Bruel) and Anna (Elsa Zylberstein) run a barber shop with their two oldest sons Henri (Cesar Clavier) and Albert (Ilian Bergala). The family was, at the time flying under the radar as French until the father proclaimed the family was Jewish when insulted by German soldiers. At once the entire family was labeled with yellow stars. Immediately, the parents sensed trouble and sent the boys out of Paris on their own.


The story is of the two younger boys trek through German occupied France pass German inspections and even through interrogation. The various people who aided them either casually or unknowingly; even one who was an anti-Semite and German sympathizer.


The occupation and to an extent the holocaust from a child's perspective is always touching [citing "The Diary of Anne Frank"], but Joffo's recollection doesn't just include the misery. He recalls the time they spent when the family originally met up in the free state of Vichy France - in the town of Menton. The boys found great joy until their parents had to depart as Germans started rounding up Jews there as well.


Duguay adds a realistic but yet gentle touch to their saga highlighting the boys rigors and perils, but not being overbearing with graphic details. He creates a very watchable biographical film just as he did with "Coco Chanel" and "Human Trafficking". Le Cleche and Fleurial work perfectly together and the film stays true to the novel.


There is an interesting back story to the two brothers. It seems in 1986 the older brother Maurice was tried and convicted of several misdemeanors concerning his wealth!


"A Bag of Marbles" (Un Sac de Billes) is a very well done remake of a harrowing true story. Better than the original, it is clearly the casting of the two delightful leads that make it worthwhile. [French with English subtitles]   -- GRADE B --   GEOFF BURTON