Buried Trauma, Literally, in Loot


The phase “buried trauma” turns literal in Darius Marder’s doc about a weary entrepreneur’s search for booty hidden at the close of World War II. Lance Larson’s leads come from two vets: Darrel, sturdy-looking but now blind, secreted his treasure in an Austrian farmhouse; Andy, a shrunken hoarder, left his somewhere underground in the Philippines. Lance, who most definitely does not wear a fedora or free-associate through historical clues, patiently works to gain the trust of the oldsters, keeping his eye on the prize but garnering our and their sympathy through his drug-addicted teenage son. While Lance digs into what were previously just great war stories for Darrel and Andy, Marder fosters the sense that coming to terms with wartime deeds is all that stands between them and earthly rest. He holds back from scrutinizing Lance too closely, though, and the doc is, at times, roughly fused together. But the bleakness and resignation running through the film can be gut-wrenching. Even Andy’s catharsis on an Austrian field comes with the queasy sight of an ex-SS officer giving him a comforting embrace—you can feel the air turn strange in the theater with that one.

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