×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin Film Review: ‘Monsieur Mayonnaise’

Indefatigable filmmaker-artist Philippe Mora traces his family’s remarkable tale of courage and survival during WWII in this eye-catching if ingredient-heavy documentary.

With:
Philippe Mora, Mirka Mora, William Mora, Véronique Mauclerc, Luc Rudolph, Catherine Thion, Giselle Fournier, Henri Parens, Ruth Fivaz-Silvermann, Georges Loinger. (English, French dialogue)  

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5940256/

Indefatigable Australian filmmaker-artist Philippe Mora criss-crosses the globe tracing his family’s survival during the Holocaust in Trevor Graham’s ingredient-heavy documentary “Monsieur Mayonnaise.” Revisiting some of the material Mora himself used in last year’s “Three Days in Auschwitz,” the film is a frequently fascinating if over-egged affair in which the French-born subject storyboards a personal graphic novel while recounting the remarkable story of his German-Jewish father’s work for the French Resistance and his French-Jewish mother’s miraculous escape from the gas chambers. Unnecessarily structured as a tongue-in-cheek mystery with Mora himself in the guise of a film noir detective, “Monsieur Mayonnaise” is nevertheless an eye-catching, engrossing romp sure to play well in the art house equivalent of the Borscht Belt.

Philippe’s father Georges Mora, born Gunter Morawski in Leipzig, received his nickname “Monsieur Mayonnaise” during WWII, but not everyone knew where the moniker came from. As a member of the French Resistance, he and Marcel Marceau helped smuggle scores of Jewish children into Switzerland from Nazi-occupied France. Realizing the fastidious Nazis hated to get their gloves soiled, Georges hit on the idea of wrapping documents in wax paper, slathering them with mayo, and sticking them in a sandwich; the ploy worked like a charm, and Georges’ handle stuck through the oncoming decades, when he proudly whisked up endless batches of mayonnaise as a defiantly tasty retort to the Final Solution.

After emigrating to Melbourne in the 1950s, the Moras became a fixture in the city’s lively culture scene, renowned for their restaurants and galleries as well as the art works of Georges’ wife Mirka. Philippe continues the family’s tradition of over-achievers, enjoying the wide-ranging pursuits of a modern-day Renaissance man as filmmaker (“Mad Dog Morgan,” “Howling III,” “Art Deco Detective,” etc.) and painter. Wanting to document the full story of both his parents before all the witnesses were gone, Philippe paired with Trevor Graham (“Make Hummus Not War”) in search of his roots, which took them from Los Angeles to Leipzig, Berlin, Melbourne, Paris, and Philadelphia.

In many ways, “Monsieur Mayonnaise” is a love letter to Philippe’s father, with the ultimate goal being to trace anyone Georges saved during the war. Along the way, he details both parents’ stories of survival, from Mirka’s incredibly lucky release from a detention camp, to Georges’ work smuggling Jewish orphans across the border. Along the way, he tracks down Giselle Fournier, whose parents hid Mirka’s family during the war, and Henri Parents, a Philadelphia psychiatrist who was one of the children Georges rescued.

At each location, Philippe paints bold pictures in bright acrylic colors, each designed as elements of a projected graphic novel (Mora is one of those admirable figures whose excitement and wide ranging interests trail a plethora of semi-realized endeavors in multiple fields; his infectious enthusiasm makes you glad the project exists, even if only on paper). That works better than the silly film noir recreations, which could easily be excised to allow more room for food-related stops apart from the inevitable mayonnaise (which Mirka still whips up with glee) and an appreciative pause at a Parisian boulangerie. Graham doesn’t allow any reference to go unillustrated, which bogs down the documentary with too much distracting footage, but fortunately the Mora saga is strong enough to withstand the frequent deviations.

Berlin Film Review: 'Monsieur Mayonnaise'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Culinary Cinema), Feb. 16, 2017 (also in Melbourne). Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: (Documentary – Australia-Germany) An Antidote Films release (in Australia-New Zealand) of a Screen Australia presentation of a Yarra Bank Films, Black Sheep Films, Fine Cut Films, Ned Lander Media, Lichtblick Film, Antidote Films production, in association with Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Melbourne Intl. Film Festival Premier Fund, ZDF-Arte, yesDocu, Schoenfeld Consulting, Playking Productions. (International sales: Flame Distribution, London; Seventh Art Releasing, Los Angeles.) Producers: Trevor Graham, Ned Lander, Lisa Wang, Carl Ludwig Rettinger. Executive producers: Andrew Myer, Joanna Baevski, Carrillo Gantner, Ziyin Gantner, Roger Savage, Jenny Lalor, Olaf Grunert.

Crew: Director, writer: Trevor Graham. Camera (color, b&w): Jenni Meany. Editor: Andrew Arestides.

With: Philippe Mora, Mirka Mora, William Mora, Véronique Mauclerc, Luc Rudolph, Catherine Thion, Giselle Fournier, Henri Parens, Ruth Fivaz-Silvermann, Georges Loinger. (English, French dialogue)  

More Film

  • Janelle Monae

    Film News Roundup: Janelle Monae to Star in Film From Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

    In today’s film news roundup, Janelle Monae will star in a Lionsgate movie, Bill Nighy joins “Emma,” and documentaries on surfer Bethany Hamilton and Asbury Park are dated. CASTINGS More Reviews Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise' Karen O & Danger Mouse Talk ‘Lux Prima,’ Perform at New York Times Event Janelle Monae [...]

  • Paul Feig Heads to Universal From

    Paul Feig's Feigco Entertainment Jumps From Fox to First-Look Deal at Universal

    Universal’s comedy constellation just added another star, welcoming Paul Feig from 20th Century Fox Film on Thursday. Universal has set a first-look production agreement with Feig’s Feigco Entertainment, bringing in the prolific producer, writer, and director known for hits like “Bridesmaids” and the recent “A Simple Favor.” More Reviews Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in [...]

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    Disney Retiring Fox 2000 Label

    Disney will stop making films under the Fox 2000 label, a move that could mean that its head Elizabeth Gabler will not be making the move to the Magic Kingdom, Variety has learned. The decision is surprising because Disney had previously stated that Gabler would stay on board at the studio even after it was [...]

  • Macon Blair27th Annual Gotham Independent Film

    Macon Blair to Direct and Write 'Toxic Avenger' Reboot for Legendary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Macon Blair has been tapped to write and direct Legendary’s reboot of the cult classic “The Toxic Avenger,” sources tell Variety. Legendary acquired the feature film rights in December and have quickly made the project a high priority at the studio. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers with Alex [...]

  • Danny Boyle Bond 25

    Danny Boyle Calls His Exit From 'Bond 25' a 'Great Shame'

    Director Danny Boyle has finally spoken out after leaving the upcoming 25th James Bond movie over creative differences. After splitting from the new 007 flick last August, Boyle told Empire in a story published on Thursday that the script he penned with his “Trainspotting” co-writer John Hodge “wasn’t finished, but it could have been really [...]

  • Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    An elegiac documentary exploring the brief life of rapper Lil Peep, “Everybody’s Everything” certainly doesn’t lack for perspectives. Interviewing virtually everyone who knew the musician (born Gustav Ahr), directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan cover the waterfront, from Peep’s family to his girlfriends, his innumerable collaborators, his managers and his fans, trying to distill exactly [...]

  • A Brinks armored truck pulls into

    Fox Layoffs: Distribution and Marketing Leaders Out

    Layoffs have hit Fox following the entertainment company’s sale to Disney. The staff cuts are hitting employees at the SVP, EVP, and president level. Senior staff is expected to be among the first to be impacted. However, the cuts will be deep, with the ax falling hardest of Fox’s film team. There could be as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content