Divan follows the filmmaker's effort to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heir loom - a couch. The filmmaker journeys from her birthplace, Brooklyn's Hasidic community, to its origins in Hungary and back. The couch - considered holy because certain Hasidic rabbis had slept on it - survived WWII and is in the filmmaker's great grandfather's house in Rohod, a northeast Hungarian town. In the tradition of storytelling, the filmmaker creates a visual parable about the Hasidic community that she left as a teenager. She trails the couch through a quirky landscape populated by Hasidim in Brooklyn, Holocaust survivors and ex-communists in Hungary, and, finally, the next generation of formerly-Hasidic Jews on the margins of their communities in New York and Israel. Written by
Very personal documentary detailing the filmmaker's pursuit of a family heirloom, but also touching on the difficulties of leaving the Hasidic community and her efforts to get her father's approval. This does pretty much everything right. The story is well told and has some surprises, Gluck herself is likable and her expatriate Hasidm friends are articulate and insightful. The people she meets on her journey are charming and funny, and Rebbe's turn out to be more likable than stern in interviews.
I actually used to have a friend who had left the Hasidic community (they held a funeral for him when he left), so it was interesting to see a group of these people, one of whom reminded me of him. He always seemed lost, exploring some Christian groups just for the sense of community and spiritual joy, and after 30 years in the world he married and dragged his expatriate wife back to the Hasidm, pretty much dumping all his friends in the process. Which doesn't have much to do with the movie but does show how difficult it is much will it takes to leave.
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