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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Steal A Pencil For Me

MOVIE REVIEWS

STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME (2007)

Featuring Jack Polak, Ina Soep and the voices of Jeroen Krabbé and Ellen Ten Damme.

Written by Michèle Ohayon.

Directed by Michèle Ohayon.

Distributed by Red Envelope Entertainment.  94 minutes.  Not Rated.

Steal A Pencil For Me

Love is never really thought to have bloomed in the Holocaust. 

With the horrible conditions, the desperation for survival, the starvation and the constant struggle, there is no time for music, candles and romance.

Documentarian Michèle Ohayon has actually tracked down an even-more-than-usually unlikely story of two hearts meeting in the midst of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

As Jaap (Jack) Polak says early on in this touching examination of romance blooming in the background of death, "I am a very special Holocaust survivor.  I was in a camp with my wife and my girlfriend.  Believe me, it was not easy."

Jack was living in Holland and unhappily married to Manja when World War II broke out.  He had also recently met Ina Soep and became infatuated with her. 

Thus begins one of the most against-the-odds relationships you will come across. 

His marriage was on the ropes anyway -- supposedly Manja was dating around and the married couple had become more friend than lovers. When Jack saw Ina at a party he was smitten.  She, too, was taken.

There was no chance to act on the attraction, though.  Soon World War II exploded into their lives, sending all three to a series of concentration camps.

While surviving all the hardships and death of the concentration camps, they recount the story of senseless horror as well as a charmingly courtly birth of a relationship -- one which was basically completely experienced and created through long walks and love letters.   The movie's title comes from one of Jaap's letters to Ina, when she was working in the concentration camp, he asks her to get him some pencils so that he can write to her more often.

Jack's ex-wife supposedly remained friendly with the couple throughout the years, though her death in the years just preceding the filming of this documentary unfortunately does leave a huge hole in the story.  The audience hears so much -- both good and bad -- about Manja's actions, but it all seems rather one-sided.  We really want to hear her take on things, which I am willing to bet would not be exactly in line with the couple's.

The movie, though sweet and horrifying at all the same time, does have a bit of a tendency to pull at the heartstrings.  Still, it is an interesting, worthy story.

Ina and Jack are a charming couple who obviously still love each other after all these years.  Their story is a nice show of the power of love to bloom even in the most bitter soil.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 21, 2007.

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Copyright ©2007   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 21, 2007.