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April 17, 2024 / Disney+

Starring: Joey King, Logan Lerman, Hadas Yaron, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Amit Rahav

Created By: Erica Lipez

Based on Georgia Hunter’s New York Times bestselling novel, the television adaptation of “We Were the Lucky Ones” is a limited series inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of WWII. The series follows them across continents as they do everything in their power to survive, and to reunite. “We Were the Lucky Ones” demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive. The series is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.

Written By Darren Zakus

Rating 4.5 out of 5

We Were the Lucky Ones is a harrowing, intimate and incredible miniseries focused on one Jewish family during the Second World War that details the extremes that they not only endured to survive, but to remain together and reunite, brought to life by an incredible cast led by a sensational performance from Joey King.

While there have been countless films and television series that have dramatized the events of the Second World War, both on the battlefield and in terms of civilian life, it will never cease to amaze me that vast array of stories that are waiting to be told while exploring this time period in history that continue to capture the attention of audiences. The latest story to join these ranks is We Were the Lucky Ones, the adaptation of the best selling novel by Georgia Hunter which is inspired by her family’s story during the Second World War, and it packs an emotional punch that instantly invests you in the story of the Kurc family. While the excellent screenplay allows each member of the Kurc family to have their own personality and character arc come to life on screen, it is an insanely talented cast that makes We Were the Lucky Ones one of the best television series of the year so far.

Spanning over eight years of life into a matter of only eight episodes, the screenplay is one of We Were the Lucky One’s strongest assets. Balancing Jewish traditions, the political state in Poland during the Second World War with the Nazis and Russians, and the horrors that were inflicted on the Jewish people during the Second World War, there is a lot for the writers to weave into the story of the Kurc family. And they do so with a seemingly effortless ease, while giving each member of the Kurc family the spotlight over the course of the miniseries. With each moment focused on the different members of the family, the audience only grows closer to the Kurc family as they get to know every single member of the family in an intimate way, which raises the emotional stakes for the miniseries. The horrors of the war are never for a second shied away from, creating many moments throughout the show where viewers will be petrified in terror as they witness the brutality inflicted on the Jewish people, holding their breath to see if the beloved member of the Kurc family will survive. So by the time the miniseries reaches its incredibly emotional finale that is guaranteed to have viewers not only letting out a massive sigh of relief but a waterfall of tears as the Second World War comes to an end, it truly explains the show’s title in the most beautiful way despite the awful conditions endured by the Kurc family.

Without hesitation, it is the performances that make this miniseries a must see television event thanks to its wonderful ensemble cast that includes Joey King, Logan Lerman, Sam Woolf, Hadas Yaron, Robin Weigert, Lior Ashkenazi, Amit Rahav, Eva Feiler, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Michael Aloni and Moran Rosenblatt. King runs away with the entire series in the role of Halina, the headstrong, youngest daughter of the Kuric family willing to sacrifice herself to reunite her family and the family of some many Jewish people displaced during the Second World War. In every single scene, King is absolutely fierce as she navigates the horrors that her and her family must not only endure to survive, but reunite after being separated by the war, while displaying a raw vulnerability that bears Halina’s emotions for the viewers to experience firsthand. It’s nothing short of a magnificent performance, that combined with King’s charm that instantly makes you fall in love with her character, is the type of performance that should be gaining major awards consideration. Lerman is very good as the Kurc’s middle sibling Addy, who has a very different life path during the war being in France when Hitler and the Nazis invaded Poland, and while he is marvelous at every turn, his story for the most part lacks the emotional depth that the rest of the family’s has. Weigert and Ashkenazi are excellent as the heads of the family Nechuma and Sol, each grappling with a different set of emotions with the change of their lives as a result of the war: Weigert with a sadness for the loss of the life that her character has built for her family, and Ashkenazi with a somber gratitude that his character has for his family being as safe and together as they can be given the circumstances. For me personally, aside from King who is sublime from start to finish, it is Rahav, Yaron and Feiler who steal the supporting spotlight with their harrowing performances as their characters endure grueling circumstances, emotional lows and highs, and heartbreak yet carry on despite it all.

Aiding in the story telling is strong below the line work that builds the world of a war torn Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The production design and costumes instantly transports viewers back to the time period, with each different location reflecting the circumstances of the Kurc family. Whether it be the colourless and basic Jewish ghettos or Russian occupied Poland signaling the disparity of the individuals there, or the bright locations that Addy visits that captures the world outside of the war, and the general lack of true understanding of what is happening in Europe, the environments of the series help inform the story at every step. The visual effects and computer generated imagery, while subtle, is frequently used to recreate the devastation of the war and transform Romania into Poland during the World War II, which only heightens the immersive and emotional experience that the miniseries becomes.

There is no denying that We Are the Lucky Ones is a tough watch, as the horrors inflicted upon the Jewish people during the Second World War are shown with a raw and brutal reality, but the story of the Kurc family is one that must be seen by viewers. It is a certainty that you are going to have a lump in your throat throughout the series, with tears welling up in your eyes as the emotion of the Kurc family’s fight to survive and reunite is played out on screen, but it is one incredible and moving story that is bound to take away audiences’ breath. With a sensational cast led by truly magnificent performances from Joey King, Amit Rahav, Hadas Yaron and Eva Feiler, the layered screenplay that not only captures the war and its effects on the Jewish people, but the heart and soul of each member of the Kurc family makes We Are the Lucky Ones one unmissable miniseries event that is destined to be one of the best television shows of 2024.

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