Wil (2024) Movie Review – A well-made Netflix war drama about Jewish genocide

A well-made Netflix war drama about Jewish genocide

Wil is a captivating Belgian period drama that unfolds in pre-World War II Germany. With a script penned by Carl Joos, Tim Mileants, and Jeroen Olyslagers, and under the direction of Tim Mileants, the film delves into the shadowy chapters of modern German history, offering a poignant glimpse into the hardships endured by the Jewish community under the Nazi regime.

Beyond its exploration of this historical tragedy, Wil subtly delivers a powerful commentary on the impact of war, stressing how it affects ordinary men, women, and children. In simple terms, it’s a thought-provoking film that not only seeks to disentangle the past but also speaks to the universal human experience in times of conflict.

In the film, we meet Wil Wilferd, a kind-hearted police recruit eager to serve both the government and the people in Antwerp. His enthusiasm takes a hit when Commissioner Jean instructs officers to follow government orders without questioning.

Things get even more challenging when the government tasks the police with conducting raids and arresting Jews. Now, Wil faces an endless struggle, torn between his duty and his sense of what’s right.

In this film, the narrative jumps back and forth in time between Will Wilfried’s story and the story of a Jewish family rescued by him. The seamless transitions between these two plots are so carefully framed that the audience never feels like they’re missing out on anything.

Instead of relying on traditional flashbacks, the movie cleverly uses dialogue to unfold the exposition, keeping the storytelling dynamic and engaging. Right from the start, we witness the unexplained disappearance of Feldgendrum’s body from a manhole. As the film progresses, we gradually discover that it was the Jewish family who clandestinely moved the body to a safer location.

This incident becomes the thread that intertwines these two different stories. The news that the Jewish family moved the body comes directly from the old jew.  This is done without the use of flashbacks to maintain a seamless flow in the narrative. This clever connection of different worlds and the use of dialogue for exposition keeps us hooked, allowing us to follow the plot with ease. 

The film excels in its portrayal of characters, not just the main ones but also those in supporting roles. Take Lode Metdepennigen, for instance – a supporting character with an important role who propels our Will toward the ultimate conflict. Down the road, Lode’s character evolves, establishing his own identity. We discover that he is a Communist who is using his position as a police officer to help many Jewish people in escaping the clutches of Nazi extremism. 

Another great part of the movie stems from the superb acting. The actors do justice to their roles and breathe life into their characters with intense and genuine emotions. Take Pierre Bokma as Chaim Litzke, for example. Even with a few lines, he uses his body language and eyes to show us what’s going on in his mind.

It’s tricky because, at the beginning, he seems like a good guy willing to help Will, but by the end, we learn the real truth. This negative arc has been handled so perfectly that we understand why Chaim does what he does through the actions he takes rather than telling us verbally. 

The film keeps things simple when it comes to technical elements like cinematography and editing. There’s not a significant impact on the story from these aspects. The color grading remains consistent throughout, creating a unified emotional tone. In line with many war movies, the color palette leans towards a bluish tint, isolating characters and intensifying the melancholy. This use of colors like green or blue is a common technique to intensify sadness, as seen in war dramas like Dunkirk or Jojo Rabbit.

Wil reflects on the devastating consequences of communal mistrust and the way people in high chairs can manipulate and divide society for their own gain. It’s not just another genocide movie, but this one gives the situation of Jews in Germany the justice it deserves.

What sets it apart is that it unveils a side of Germany that empathizes with Jews, just wanting a peaceful life. If you’re into films like Schindler’s List and want a real-deal understanding of Germany during World War II, this film is a total must-watch. It’s not just about the past; it’s a mirror reflecting some harsh truths about humanity and power. 

This movie delicately addresses the sensitive topic of the Jewish genocide during World War II, handling it with great care to avoid swamping audiences with unnecessary details. It sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of the war—the role of Communists in saving Jews.

The film stands out for its exceptional world-building, using the audience’s basic knowledge of World War II to its advantage. Instead of spending too much time on character introductions, it dives right into the main conflict, with every moment and dialogue propelling us toward the gripping conclusion.

For those interested in learning more about the holocaust or anyone who enjoys intense war dramas, this film is a definite must-watch.

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

  • Verdict - 7/10

Leave a comment