Review: Ganef

Written and directed by Mark Rosenblatt, confusion escalates when a little girl thinks she sees her beloved family cleaner steal a precious ornament. Starring: Izabella Dziewanska, Sophie McShera, Danny Scheinmann and Lydia Wilson.

One of the most effective things a director can do when telling a story such as this, so focused on the impressions of a child, is to tell it from their perspective, which is what Mark Rosenblatt achieves here. The quality of camera movements and angles are childlike and curious, which is matched by great cinematography work from Alana Mejia Gonzalez, it hits the era dead on. Both of which are supported by a brilliant choice of location for capturing the essence of post war elegance and prosperity. As well as some excellent costume work and plentiful set dressings, particularly in Ruthie’s bedroom.

The score (by Marc Teitler) quickly sets up an almost adventure style feel, embracing the edge of imagination brought through by the childlike perspective. In turn that’s then enhanced by the sweetness to the initial story, which then develops into something a little more complex. It explores how children can quickly misunderstand a situation, especially while grappling with explanations given by their parents that they can’t quite grasp. On top of the more typical treatment of working class employees in rich households. It’s well written and all of its elements work together to build a good dose of tension, however it does land fairly in middle ground. It isn’t overtly touching or sharp, which can be due to the perspective of youth but it cries out to push the emotional connection with its audience further.

Izabella Dziewanska as Ruthie leads the story well, she’s convincing and has a great chemistry with Sophie McShera, which makes the turbulence of their relationship as the story unfolds even better. McShera brings a simple, kind nature to her character, her hurt from the misunderstanding is clear on her face and she can’t hide it or ignore it, which nicely reflects qualities of inexperience or insecurities. Lydia Wilson has a slightly more brief appearance but it’s similarly well done, and it was a great idea to be more subtle with the complexities to her character and her history of struggle versus current prosperity.

Ganef lovingly captures a child’s perspective and how their misunderstandings can quickly have unintended consequences to those around them. It has a strong aesthetic and Mark Rosenblatt’s directorial style does well to instil the film with curiosity, imagination and youth. Dziewanska and McShera lead the film with an adorable chemistry, it’s just missing a stronger emotional pull to push it over the top.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

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