December 29, 2018
Raghav Peri may love cinema, but 'Delaware Shore' shows that as a director he is wet behind the ears.
A Holocaust film, the script poorly uses the theme. A survivor of the camps, fodder for Nazi troops at the front, sensitive Agnes emerges from the war and death camps a living corpse without a soul. A hollow woman, who survives by using her body and animal instinct.
She abandons her daughter, who, in turn, leaves her fraternal twins on her mother's doorstep in Slaughter Beach, Delaware.
The name of the place is quite suggestive but Peri makes little of it. A Spartan lass Agnes bring her grandchildren up without much affection; she's enveloped herself in hardness that hardly betrays a quality of affection. She drinks, lives on the public pence, but she owns a well appointed cottage on the ocean's edge.
She throws her grandson out because he's gay; her granddaughter, too, for not keeping her knickers up, when she becomes pregnant.
And we see flashbacks: a sensitive young Agnes who writes poetry and basks in her father's love and protection until the Germans arrest them. She bears a daughter she gives up with disgust, Who is the father> Is it the black man who befriends her in Slaughter and whose house becomes hers. But the twins are Caucasian.
Agnes drinks, carries a gun and tries to fade into the woodwork, unknown. And yet she hounded by ghosts: a Jew who accuses her for betraying her people; a German officer who reclaims her? She shots the first, knifs the second. Are they real or manifestations of her troubled, disturbed conscience? And her black lover was he the body found in the shoals?
Agnes never ages but in the end when by Peri's count she should be at least 90. The grandchildren learn of Agnes' internment from another Holocaust survivor in senior living.
And Agnes' whimsical attempt at drowning herself remains unconvincing.
The film is a muddle. We were two in the cinema; when the light went up, I was alone.