MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 26, 2024: IRENA’S VOW

There’s no denying the fact that humans are capable of terrible cruelty; everything from the history books to the headlines of today’s newspapers makes that sadly, abundantly clear. But people are also capable of acts of tremendous courage and character. Such is the case in director Louise Archambault’s moving drama Irena’s Vow, which tells the story of Irena Gut Opdyke, a Catholic Polish woman who risked herself repeatedly to hide a group of Jews during the Holocaust.

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IRENA’S VOW – Review by Loren King

This riveting drama must be watched through the credits; the compelling revelations about the real-life characters adds power to a story that would defy credulity if not for its truth. Set in Poland at the start of the Nazi occupation, director Louise Archambault’s absorbing story follows a young nurse, Irena Gut (Sophie Nelisse), who is forced to work as a cook and housekeeper for a Nazi commandant who likes to throw lavish parties. Irena, who’s lost her family and home, risks her life to hide 11 Jewish people who’d been working as tailors for the Nazis but are now set to be deported to the camps.

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IRENA’S VOW – Review by Lois Alter Mark

You’d think there would be no new Holocaust stories to tell at this point but Irena’s Vow introduces a real-life heroine who only agreed to share her tale after being confronted by a Holocaust denier and realizing she couldn’t remain silent any longer. Irena Gut Opdyke (Sophie Nelisse) was studying to be a nurse in Poland when the Nazis invaded the country in 1939. A serious, hardworking young woman, she is put in charge of the Jews who are working as tailors and sewing the German soldiers’ uniforms. She gets to know them and promises to do what she can to protect them. How she will be able to do this is unclear to the prisoners, to the audience and to herself – nevertheless, she persists.

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IRENA’S VOW (TIFF 2023) – Review by Liz Braun

Irena Gut was a teenaged nurse-in-training in Poland when the Nazis invaded her country in 1939. Gut used all the resources at her disposal to help save the lives of Polish Jews during World War II, whether that was sneaking food into the ghetto or hiding Jews in the villa where she later became housekeeper to German Major Eduard Rugemer. Irena’s Vow is a new film version of Gut’s war experiences.

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