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It's the 1920's. The Hermans - Harry Herman, his wife Annie Herman née Elias, their adolescent son David Herman, and Annie's father - are a Jewish family living in a small flat in the working class Jewish neighborhood of Montréal. David loves his "Zaida" (grandfather) with who he spends most Sundays driving around in their horse drawn wagon collecting junk - namely "rags, clothes, bottles" - to earn money. David also loves hearing his Zaida's stories about their Jewish culture, although most of those stories are made up and not based based on religious Jewish beliefs. Those stories are only one bone of contention between religious Zaida and secular Harry, as modern thinking Harry feels the stories are old fashioned hogwash and provide David with no grounding in what is real in life. Another issue of contention is money, as Harry is always dreaming of get rich schemes - the latest being to manufacture permanently creased and thus iron-less trousers - for which Zaida will not provide ... Written by
LIES MY FATHER TOLD ME is a wonderful tender movie so sensitive and appealing that it almost imperceptibly moves us, and by the end we are moved very deeply. It is impossible to do it justice in a few words except to say that I love it a great deal. It is set in the Montreal of the 1920s in a tenement neighborhood like the ones that exist(ed) around Clark Street. Davey (Jeffrey Lynas) is a 6-year-old boy living with his first-generation Russian-Jewish parents and his maternal grandfather (Yossi Yadin.) The old man is a junk dealer, very religious, with a poet's attitude toward life. The boy worships him and accompanies him on his weekly collection treks through the neighborhood on his wagon pulled by the aging nag Ferdelah. "Rags, clothes, bottles!" the old man chants as he drives. The father is a materialistic inventor of flop products and treats the boy gruffly. The mother (Marilyn Lightstone) is a compassionate person of conflicting loyalties. The son-in-law's dislike for the old man and the neighbors' dislike for the untidy horse provide much of the drama. But the film's real value is the poignancy of the special relation between youth and experience and in the wisdom with which the film observes human foibles. Some of the dialog and situations are earthy, in an East European manner. Not surprising, since Jan Kadar, the director, is Czech and was responsible for the devastating SHOP ON MAIN STREET and ADRIFT. The opening sequence of the wagon being drawn through snow-covered alleys is haunting, and the final scenes of the boy's confrontation with the old man's death reverberate with a shimmering human resonance.
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