ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Love in wartime; political purgatory
Rick is that stubborn guy on the Internet who complains about people bringing politics into his life. "Either lay off politics, or get out," he tells his patrons, trying to keep his saloon isolated from the rest of the world, while actual, literal Nazis sing nationalist anthems in full military attire. He is structurally the antagonist of the film in the sense that he's the one preventing the plot from progressing, he's the one with the letters of transit who's refusing to give them to Victor and Ilsa. "I'm the only 'cause' I'm interested in."
Well, Rick, we all have to learn at some point that, as Signor Ferrari is astutely aware, isolationism is not a sustainable—or ethical—political paradigm. The decision to abstain from politics is itself an inherently political position, and one that's only even possible for the select few privileged enough to be so free from persecution that they can ignore the realities of the world. But love, even pessimistic, unreciprocated love, is precisely the personal investment necessary to force someone to re-engage with the world around them.
"Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win."
Top 10: Noir | Top 10: Romance | Best of Its Year
Best Picture Winners | Film Noir
35mm @ The Brattle