Movie Reviews

Charming, Thought-Provoking | “Ganef” (2020) Short Film Review

Full disclaimer: InReview was provided with a screener for the following film.

InReview often receives short film screeners in its digital mailbag, which we’re happy to review if they’re professionally-made. One such film is Mark Rosenblatt’s “Ganef,” a short film about a young girl named Ruthie (Izabella Dziewanska), who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, who sees her adored cleaner, Lynn (Sophie McShera), steal a small ornament. 

She makes a connection to Lynn’s small theft and a story her mother, Mrs. Hirth (Lydia Wilson), told her from her time in Nazi Germany, in which she would have to hide valuables so the soldiers wouldn’t take them, and she reacts to it in a very believable way — by hiding all her stuff, which outs Lynn’s theft. 

The film is told from Ruthie’s point of view, with plenty of perspective shots. We rarely see anything she doesn’t, which leaves the film open-ended — for example, there’s a scene in which Mrs. Hirth confronts Lynn about her stealing, but all the viewers sees is the two enter a room shortly before shutting the door, with their conversation purposefully kept private both from Ruthie and from us. 

Danny Scheinmann plays Mr. Hirth, Ruthie’s stern father, but is only in the film briefly; the focus of the film is locked on Ruthie’s relationship with Lynn and her mother. The film’s title, “Ganef”, means thief, according to Merriam-Webster, which is precisely what Ruthie calls Lynn at the end of the film, communicating that while Lynn has tried to mend her relationship with the girl, she’s lost her trust, which is interesting because the film implies that Mrs. Hirth forgave her — directly after their private conversation, it’s revealed that the incident did not compromise her employment, and Mrs. Hirth is even attentive to her needs, offering help. 

My interpretation is that, rather than fire the cleaner, she asked why she felt the need to steal and offered assistance and understanding, but Ruthie knows none of this and is incapable of understanding it even if she knew because of her age. 

It’s an interesting film that is shot and directed competently, though it doesn’t necessarily rise above the average period piece on a technical level (the film takes place at least a few decades after WWII). And while I did find the film’s ending quite abrupt and not exactly satisfactory, this film is charming, memorable and thought-provoking, and is worth a watch.

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