The plot here doesn’t initially seem promising: Children of Nazis fend for themselves in desperate, defeated, Allied-occupied Germany. But Lore doesn’t seek your sympathy for the forgotten innocents of war. Which is not to say that Australian director Cate Shortland (Somersault) is unsympathetic to these Germans. She simply reminds us how Nazi culture still defines them, especially fresh-faced teenager Lore (Saskia Rosendahl), the very picture of Aryan maidenhood.
Lore’s privileged life comes crashing down as she sees her SS officer father hurriedly burn the evidence of his war crimes, while her mother barks bitter reprisals. Both prepare for their inevitable capture by the Allies. Neighbors want nothing to do with the five kids. Strangers are potential predators, ready to rob or use the family’s new baby as a prop for begging food. The children duck Allied patrols and fellow refugees en route to Grandmother’s house. And they find the unlikeliest of protectors in a young concentration-camp survivor, Thomas (Kai Malina), with a startlingly clear-headed survival instinct and an instant grasp of the complicated new politics of postwar Germany.