It is hard enough for star-crossed lovers to find a path to happiness, but when you stick the Holocaust in the middle of it all, it seems impossible. I’ll Find You, directed by Martha Coolidge, takes us into a world where young lovers have their lives torn apart and must find a way back together. The film is inspired by stories of Polish musicians, although it is done in English.
Robert Pulaski (Leo Suter as an adult, Sebastian Croft as a youth) is new at the Music Academy in Lodz, where he first encounters Rachel Rubin (Adelaide Clemens as an adult, Ursula Parker as a youth), another student there. Their early meetings are like oil and water, but there is also a tenderness between them. They have very different backgrounds: Robert is Catholic, Rachel is Jewish.
After a two year absence to study voice in Germany, Robert returns to find Rachel engaged. He’s devastated but begins a campaign to win her back. The love between the two blooms again, but her family will be leaving for Switzerland, trying to avoid the German invasion of Poland. But the day they were supposed to leave is when the Germans attack, and the family is trapped. Robert joins the Resistance, but when Rachel’s family is captured and sent to Auschwitz, he sets out to find a way to rescue her.
Robert goes to Berlin to enlist the help of his voice mentor Benno Moser (Stellan Skarsgård), who has many contacts among the Nazi elite. Soon Robert is even singing before Hitler himself. Moser’s contacts confirm that Rachel is in Auschwitz where she is part of the orchestra. They arrange to perform in the camp, where Robert at least sees his love. But can they arrange to get her out? Robert will stop at nothing to be reunited with Rachel, even after the war ends, he keeps following clues from one place to another, never giving up.
The romantic part of the film is a bit more complete than the clandestine search for Rachel. The first half of the film blends well the love story, the music, and wonderful production design that reflects pre-war Poland.
There are some gaps in the storytelling that could have profitably been filled in. For example, we really don’t see the ethical anguish that Robert had to go through to switch so quickly from the Resistance to singing for Hitler—even if it is for the cause of finding Rachel. Also, Rachel tells her family that music is part of who she is, yet the experience in the camps pushes her away from music. We only see a touch of that turmoil before it is resolved.
In the end, the film is a story of love. It is about love that will not let go, even when all seems hopeless. It is also the story of love that brings healing to the deep wounds that have been suffered.
I’ll Find You is in select theaters and available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.