Farewell, Mr Haffmann [France]

Released 2021

SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2024 – 10.00 am
TUESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2024 – 8.15 pm
RUNNING TIME 115 minutes


During the Nazi occupation of Paris in WW II, master jeweller Mr Haffman sends his family ahead to a safe zone while tying up loose ends in his flourishing shop. He comes to an agreement with the assistant he barely knows, that he will return after the war to reclaim his shop.

Review: Alex First 

It is May 1941 and Joseph Haffmann (Daniel Auteuil) runs a small jewellery shop. He’s noted for his fine craftsmanship. Haffmann sees the situation in occupied Paris worsening and understands the urgency of arranging safe passage out of the country for his wife and three children. Haffmann promises to follow behind shortly, but first he enacts a plan to hand ownership of the shop (and the residence attached to it) to his relatively new employee. That man, Francois Mercier (Gilles Lellouche), who walks with the aid of a calliper, is married to Blanche (Sara Giraudeau). Mercier aspires to open his own jewellery business one day, so while this unexpected arrangement with Haffmann comes out of the blue, he welcomes it … even though Blanche does not.

The deal is that Mercier will take over and change the signage on the shop to reflect his name, only to hand the business back when Haffman is able to return after the war. In return, Haffmann will then help Mercier open his own shop. The deal done, Haffmann leaves with a handshake. However, as the German presence becomes overwhelming, escape ultimately becomes impossible. The dynamic between Mercier, his wife and Haffman inevitably changes.

While you could question certain plot elements, there’s no doubt the story is compelling. Unease and discomfort are always close at hand. The key roles are well played. Auteuil is credible as a decent, hardworking man caught in a dangerous position. Lellouche captures the transition in Mercier, in a movie in which power shifts. Giraudeau shows vulnerability, compassion, fear and horror as Blanche.

The screenplay by director Fred Cavayé and Sarah Kaminsky from a play by Jean-Philippe Daguerre maintains and builds interest. Intensity is the name of the game. The question is how will Haffmann and the Merciers end up?

Source: www.theblurb.com.au Alex First 20/4/2022 Edited extracts accessed 20/6/2023