Chris Cooper’s voice – dignified, weathered, objective – is the most important factor in this interesting documentary examining Primo Levi, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and his re-assimilation into the everyday, into the modern world after Auschwitz. The film achieves a palimpsest effect as it tracks Levi’s journey home, focusing on one of the themes of his work (memory, work, identity) in each town along the way.

History and literature speak in tones both wise and civilized, offering moments of meaning, a lifeline of sanity. We look at the state of things today in Central Europe, meet survivors of the past, of whatever it was that was thrown at them and listen with gratitude to the words of a man for whom every verb mattered.

This is a cinematic essay, an exploration of what is essential, a satisfying experiment in storytelling and memory.

Grade: A

Primo Levi’s Journey is currently available.