My Best Friend Anne Frank Review: Separated by the Nazis

Anne Frank once lamented that she could survive the war and her friend, Hannah Goslar , probably wouldn’t. It’s a haunting perspective ...


Anne Frank once lamented that she could survive the war and her friend, Hannah Goslar, probably wouldn’t. It’s a haunting perspective to take in as you watch”My best friend Anne Franck», a Dutch film told from Hannah’s point of view. Ben Sombogaart’s costume drama shuttles between Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, where Hannah and Anne are good friends, and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they were later imprisoned separately.

The film wants to highlight a story of childhood friendship and innocence during the Holocaust. Mischief-making Anne (Aiko Beemsterboer) delights and frustrates her loyal friend, Hannah (Josephine Arendsen), who feels left out as other girls (and boys) enter the scene. When Anne disappears, Hannah doesn’t realize that her friend has been hiding nearby. She is soon overwhelmed by the persecution of her own family by the Nazis.

In the camp footage, a smudged-faced Hannah shuffles through an anonymously drab environment. The muddled depiction looks and feels quaint compared to other films about the experience, and it doesn’t help that Hannah is less vividly drawn than Anne. The director seems to be biding his time until their dramatic reunion, when Hannah learns that Anne is dying on the other side of a camp wall.

By clinging to Hannah’s naïve point of view and the cherished ideal of her friendship with Anne, some hard truths are hidden or oddly sanitized. Physical abuse tends to be staged in the background of shots, for example (even when Hannah’s pregnant mother is bullied at home). The credits underline the tender ear of the whole company by declaring that Anne “has become what she wanted: world fame”.

My best friend Anne Franck
Unclassified. In Dutch, German and Hungarian, with subtitles. Duration: 1h43. To watch on Netflix.

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