This is not a perfect film. It does not claim to be. While following (in most respects) the famous epistolary novel by Sholom Aleichem it tends to dip into the occasional weepy sentimentality. The line-up of actors, the careful and believable filming and the excellent music allows us to ignore that--or at least to bear with it. There are no bad actors in this film. To be more specific, there are no actors in this film who would look wrong, unnatural or uncomfortable in their roles. Their specifically Jewish theatrical world of the 1890's remains believable, while flowing from a Hungarian shtetl, to Budapest, to Vienna, to London, to New York. It is the music that makes this film particularly charming, and lets us forget about the occasional pathetic moment. Grigoriy Lyampe is wonderful as the elderly cantor, singing in duet with his daughter from the Song of Songs. The performances of the Jewish theater are lively, and specific to the culture of the time. The highlight of the film, however, is Irina Toma's debut in a cabaret, singing the poignant, vivid, and passionate "Every Jew is a King". The actors deserve special notice. It will be a waste of time to provide the entire list, but Mamuka Kikaleishvili, Irina Toma, Larisa Udovichenko, Grigoriy Lyampe, Sofiko Chiaureli and many others make this film worth watching. For all the occasional melancholy and sentimental whimper, this is a delightful film, with brilliant actors, luminescent music, and a glimpse into a world long gone, from the great novel of a man who remembered this world first-hand. Worth watching.
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