The protagonist of “Lore,” a powerful and haunting drama set in Germany immediately after the country’s defeat in World War II, is a teenage girl. Subtly played by Saskia Rosendahl, Lore (pronounced “Laura”) is just old enough to have learned to fear and hate Jews. It’s a sick lesson imparted to her by her Nazi parents (Hans-Jochen Wagner and Ursina Lardi) who, as the film gets underway, are being taken into custody by Allied troops.
This leaves Lore the rest of the film to begin to unlearn that lesson, and maybe to pick up a few new ones, as she and her four younger siblings, who are still relatively untainted by anti-Semitism, make their way through the Black Forest to a relative’s house near Hamburg. The carved-up countryside they travel through — a land divided into sections controlled by the Americans, the British, the Russians and the French — resembles the setting of a latter-day Brothers Grimm tale. Death and moral ambiguity litter the roadside. As Lore’s mother puts it while warning her daughter to avoid soldiers, “They kill all the children.”