The Truce (La Tregua)

on April 24, 1998 by Ed Scheid
   "The Truce" is an adaptation of the memoirs of Primo Levi, an Italian chemist who was imprisoned in Auschwitz. The film follows Levi ("The Big Lebowski's" John Turturro) through the chaotic times after Auschwitz is liberated in 1945. Levi lives in a Soviet resettlement camp and follows a labyrinthine journey through Eastern Europe to return to his home in Italy. He begins to reconnect to his emotions, which he had kept dormant during his time in Auschwitz.
   With his gaunt appearance, Turturro is convincing as a concentration camp inmate. He expertly conveys both Levi's pain and the strength to survive as a witness to the suffering. A weakness of the screenplay keeps Levi a passive observer reacting to other characters, including a Greek prisoner played with vitality by Rade Serbedzija ("The Saint"). The most successful scenes are the large-scale ones like the opening when the gates of Auschwitz are pulled down or when the euphoric former prisoners begin their train ride home. Unfortunately "The Truce" contains too many characters and scenes that are familiar from other films set in the same period.    Starring John Turturro and Rade Serbedzija. Directed by Francesco Rosi. Written by Francesco Rosi, Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia. Produced by Leo Pescarolo and Guido De Laurentis. No stateside distributor set. Drama. English and Italian versions. Not yet rated. Running time: 115 min. Screened at Cannes.
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