18 March 2021 | Red-125
Goes beyond the "love outside the culture" genre
Leona (2018) was co-written and directed by Isaac Cherem. It was also co-written by the star, Naian González Norvind, who portrays Ariela. (Why the movie is titled Leona is revealed at the end.)
Ariela is from a close-knit Jewish family that exists within a close-knit Syrian Jewish culture in Mexico City. (There are less than 16,000 Syrian Jews in Mexico City, so everyone really does know everyone else.)
The basic plot--clear from the beginning--is that Ariela falls in love with a Christian. As would be expected, this is a source of distress for her family and her community.
How the movie plays out from that beginning is unpredictable and interesting. What makes the film worth seeing is Norvind's great acting and the fact that Ariela is not a perfect person trapped in a cultural vise. Unlike many women portrayed in movies like this, she has definite weaknesses as well as strengths.
Leona has a decent IMDb rating of 7.2. I thought it was better than that, and rated it 9.
P.S. Notice that the opening scene and the closing scene both are of a woman taking a bath. Very clever touch by writer-director Cherem.