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Where Hands Touch


Stars: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Goodman-Hill, Will Attenborough. Olivia Vinall

Director: Amma Asante

This story of a wartime struggle for survival has been on the shelf for a couple of years, and gets an airing now presumably on the strength of the phenomenal young actress Stenberg, following her individual success with The Hate U Give.

It's 1933 and mixed-race 16-year-old Leyna (Stenberg), her mother (Cornish) and younger brother Coen (Tim Sweet), who is white, live in comparatively rural Rhineland; even so, the shadow of the SS has fallen on their town, and Mother is forced to hide Leyna under the floorboards, for 'neggroes', like Jews, are destined for death or the prison camps.

They move to a Berlin strangely undamaged by war, where things are unfortunately worse; it's hard to see how the mother thought they could have been otherwise. At any rate, Leyna meets and soon falls for a German boy, Lutz (MacKay). In no time, they're having sex on the floor of his home - just before he is called to the Front, leaving Leyna (in)conveniently pregnant.

Soon, Mother is dragged off to parts unknown, and the girl ultimately finds herself in a labour camp, where she must strive to conceal her pregnancy.

But guess who, in the wildest of coincidences, she finds stationed there?

Despite a story based on truth, this didn't affect me as much as it might have. I felt at times I was watching Death Camp Lite. Stenberg is appealing, and Cornish OK, but MacKay, like most of the supporting cast, is not very good.

Dialogue varies between acceptable and banal, with one exchange - 'You are not a hero - and neither am I,' says Lutz's father (Eccleston) - hitting a notable low. It's definitely not up to the standard of the director's previous work, which includes Belle and A United Kingdom.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: Spirit Entertainment. Colour (unspecified).
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 May 2019