Normally, I wouldn't go for a movie centered around two young teens but this is well-done and one of the actors, Lukas Haas, is a veteran despite his age. (He was the little Amish boy in "Witness").
Haas is outstanding in here, particularly in conveying his feelings throughout the film. It's a story that could easily be trite or corny but winds up appealing with no unpleasant scenes overdone. That could have happened since the girl (Vanessa Zaoui) is a traumatized kid with several mental problems. Michael Gross and Amy Aquino, meanwhile, do a decent job of playing Jewish parents and it's nice to see a father portrayed in a positive light, for a change.
In summary, a good and somewhat underrated melodrama
Reviewed by overseer-310 / 10
I keep coming back to this film
Alan and Naomi is an unforgettable film of incredible depth, humanity, and vision; on so many levels it's just about impossible to list them all. Every scene is lovingly crafted and there isn't a moment that is superfluous to the film. Every scene builds upon the next until the exceptional ending, one of the most powerfully climactic scenes I've ever seen in my life.
The story takes place in the early 1940's and a young girl is saved from Nazi Germany along with her mother and brought to Brooklyn, New York. Little Naomi is catatonic because she saw her father murdered right in front of her eyes. Alan is a Jewish boy who lives in the same apartment building. His mother asks him to spend time with Naomi, just so that she can feel she has a friend, and maybe she will be able to heal. Alan at first is very angry that he has to give up his stickball games with his friends after school just to sit with Naomi, who doesn't even acknowledge his presence. Then slowly Alan grows to care about Naomi and to think less and less of himself, and more of her sorrows and struggles. In the process Alan grows up.
All the acting is first rate here, and the sets and music are perfect to make one feel one is actually back in time in America during World War Two. Sold on the Feature Films For Families website and Amazon.com and highly recommended.
I don't think in this day and age that the historical topics broached in this film have lost any of their relevance or significance. It's good for children to know that history tends to repeat itself but that human beings can learn from the past if they choose to do so and try to rise above past mistakes. Only giving children today a diet of superficial Disney shows doesn't exactly make them well-educated. Take a break from the high school musicals and watch Alan and Naomi with your children. You'll be glad you did.
Reviewed by jeromec-29 / 10
This is a film about a Jewish teenager (Haas) who has no idea what his Jewishness means and meets a Jewish girl who knows nothing else.
The plot of the film allows us to watch him learn how Alan controls his temper and becomes a man while dealing with very serious problems as he slowly draws her into the world they live in.
Anyone who has dealt with mental illness knows that progress is not linear. Many backward steps are taken for every one that moves forward. In that the film is slightly deceptive: it leads us to believe that his treatment of her was like solving a geometry problem: each part contributes to the whole. If the part does not fit don't use it.
Movies are only two hours long. Choices have to be made. David and Lisa is probably better if one seeks accuracy. The choice here was character.
Alan grew. He learned how to give all he could to someone else. He was not thinking of his reward: he was thinking of her. As much as anything, his early failures brought about that development.
For such a young actress, Vanessa Zaoui had a wide range of emotions to deal with and she does it well. She went from compulsion (paper tearing) to transference (talking through her doll) random intense fear but timid acceptance of the outside world, to catatonia. At each step Alan, her unselfish teacher and leader, knows instinctively what to do simply by loving her as he would a much younger handicapped sister. He slowly learns how to sensitively communicate the very essence of himself.
I would not call this an entertaining film, but it is a very good study of two young teens who teach each other much.