Simon is an outcast from his Jewish community because he claims that the devil talks to him and he has the ability to put curses on crops. When Dovid asks the 'Squire' to sell him some land...
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Simon is an outcast from his Jewish community because he claims that the devil talks to him and he has the ability to put curses on crops. When Dovid asks the 'Squire' to sell him some land so he can build a railway station, a ruthless businessman from the neighbouring gentile community uses Simon to find out who wants to buy the land so he can 'persuade' him otherwise. Written by
I'd read about this film at the Noah Taylor website, but I don't believe it ever opened in the U.S. (or at least it didn't get wide release). The Sundance Channel recently showed it, however, and those good people should be heartily thanked for giving us the opportunity to view a minor masterpiece. The story involves the holy fool (Noah Taylor, in another remarkable performance) of a dying European village and the people whose lives he affects. The supporting cast, including Ian Holm and Rutger Hauer, who once again reminds us that he is indeed a good yet neglected actor, are all superb, and the story is alternatingly funny and tragic, in the best tradition of Eastern European literature. Strongest kudos must go to cinematographer Nicholas D. Knowland, who uses light and shadow to create a finely textured world, and whose often startling imagery (the Jews on the night train, the young girl waving goodbye to Simon) will stay with the viewer long after the film ends. If you get the chance, catch the director's commentary on the making of the film. I'm not at all sure that he realizes just how good a film he's made!
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