Directed: Roger Hanin
Country: Italy, France
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama
Algiers, 1940. MAMAN TITINE has lived alone with her five children ever since her husband JOSEPH, a Jewish post office employee, set off for Paris with forged papers to find work. Maman Titine tries to hide the fact she's worried especially so that she can ease the childhood problems of her son MEYER, an intelligent, proud and nonconformist young boy who loves her in a jealous way. When financial trouble and loneliness threaten to finally get the better of her she travels to occupied Paris in an attempt to persuade Joseph to return.
He has to remain, however: he cannot earn a living in war-torn Algiers. Meanwhile Meyer is growing up; he has his first sexual experiences, and tries as best he can to keep the family fed. When Joseph returns in 1945 Meyer, who fought on De Gaulle's side at the age of nearly 18, goes to France. He studies medicine there and becomes a famous surgeon.
Movie ReviewsWhile not substantially different in tone or approach from similar films like Au Revoir, Les Enfants and Europa Europa, Soleil benefits from a less familiar setting in colonial Algeria, as a Jewish family copes with the sudden institution of anti-Semitic laws under Vichy. Meyer (Nicolas Olczyk) is the 13-year-old through whose eyes the story is told: intelligent but temperamental, he packs a bag and runs away every time he has a fight at home, only to return a short while later to a family that always knew he would.
After new regulations cost his parents their jobs, Meyer's father (Philippe Noiret) goes to Paris to work under an assumed name, leaving the boy with his mother (Sophia Loren). Like the film as a whole, Loren's portrayal of the stern but dedicated mother fits into a familiar mold, but it's still a welcome one. Director Roger Hanin, an Algerian-born Parisian who drew on his own childhood for the script, captures the crowded marketplaces and scorching sun of Northern Africa with affection and grace.