The Invisibles

Stories of hiding in plain sight in Nazi Germany.

Photo courtesy of Peter Hartwig

There have been documentaries about survivors of the Holocaust, and many narratives about Jewish people who survived by pretending to be Gentiles. Claus Räfle’s docudrama The Invisibles splits the difference between Shoah and Europa, Europa — but its combination of the forms isn’t quite as satisfying as either. Hanni (Alice Dwyer), Cioama (Max Mauff), Eugen (Aaron Altaras), and Ruth (Ruby O. Fee) are four young Jewish people who remain in Berlin during World War II. Their stories are introduced by archival interviews with the real-life Hanni, Cioama, Eugen, and Ruth, with the 1940s re-creations played as extended flashbacks.

The four characters’ stories don’t intersect, as a common theme is that each person thought they were more or less the only Jew in hiding, not realizing there were a few thousand others in the same predicament. But once a given flashback begins, it’s often narrated by the actor rather than the real-life person, and the dueling voiceovers can make it tricky to keep a bead on who’s story we’re following. Some threads are necessarily more interesting than others, especially Hanni’s, which becomes a fable about passing when she discovers how differently the world treats her after she goes blonde. There’s an interesting idea at the heart of The Invisibles, but the way it’s constructed makes it hard to see.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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