31 December 2004 | myfavoriteartform
Delightful film about the diaspora experience
This is a delightful film, but in order to appreciate it fully one would need some knowledge about Jewish life in the diaspora.
It tells the story about a family of assimilated Belgian Jews, how they struggle with defining their Judaism, their family, and themselves.
There are three generations of the Rashevsky family, each of which has experienced the major forces of its era. For the oldest generation, the defining event was the Holocaust; for the middle generation, growing up in wartorn Europe and being 2nd generation after the Holocaust; finally, for the 3rd generation, dealing with assimilation and modern life in a Western culture.
The performances are nuanced, the director wisely chose the "less is more" route in the actors' interpretations of their roles. The film begins with a gripping scene that can only be gradually understood as the film tells its tale. (And the final scene has a very nice, slightly ironic, way of coming full circle).
As the film progresses, the thread of the family's story slowly unwinds. Each character comes to grips with his or her angst about Judaism, family, and what he or she wants, ending in poignance and redemption. While things don't end neatly tied together so that everyone finds the same answers - a feature of modern American TV and movies, unfortunately - it does realistically portray choices made, their rationale, and how we live with those choices.
Overall, a sensitive, lovely portrait of modern Jewish life in the diaspora, and the issues we face. I hope I have done it justice. 9 out of 10.