In Buenos Aires, the twenty and something year old Jewish-Argentinean Ariel Makaroff has left the University of Architecture and spends his time wandering through the downtown gallery where...
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In Buenos Aires, the twenty and something year old Jewish-Argentinean Ariel Makaroff has left the University of Architecture and spends his time wandering through the downtown gallery where his mother has a lingerie shop and his brother runs an importation business, trying to get his Polish passport and move to Europe. Ariel has never understood why his father left him when he was a baby to fight in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. When his father returns to Buenos Aires, Ariel discovers the reason why his father left his family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It is Argentina's official choice for the 2004 Oscar Awards, Foreign Language film category. See more »
There is no Lithuanian language in the film. The girl from Lithuania named Vilna (Lithuania's capital name is Vilnius) is speaking Russian, not Lithuanian. The words Vilna says when she first meets Ariel are "Tvoi drug Ariel. Chto s nim sluchilos?", what means "Your friend Ariel. What's wrong with him?" See more »
"Lost Embrace (El Abrazo partido)" is like a modern Sholom Aleichem story set in a Yiddishkeit neighborhood of Buenos Aires that feels very much like NYC's Lower East Side.
Here, the village full of multi-generational eccentric characters is a small mall in the middle of the city where each of a variety of Jews and other immigrants is long familiar with and tolerant of the other's idiosyncrasies and mysteries.
As played by Daniel Hendler, Ariel is an adorable slacker who thinks the solution to his ennui is to become European but ends up searching this community for his full identity and heritage -- as a Jew, as a grandson of Polish immigrants, as a mother's son, as a son of a father in Israel, as a lover, a brother, friend and Argentinian. His loving relationship with his brightly henna-haired mother as he helps out at her lingerie shop is both unusually sweet and mature and a nice counter-point to how Jewish mothers are usually portrayed.
Co-writer/director Daniel Burman uses the midrashic technique of having each question asked by the central character answered by a story, with titles appearing on screen as chapter headings. Each story is open to Talmudic-like interpretation by the participants and leads to unexpected revelations. For example, the joke from "Fiddler in the Roof" of traders arguing about whether it was a mule or a donkey is here an ongoing feud about whether it was in pesos or dollars.
While his quest greatly impacts the others he questions as each makes important changes in habits, it is a bit confusing that the more Ariel gradually learns about his history and just how entwined he is in his community, the less he is able to assimilate it into his image of himself. He does seem to learn forgiveness or maybe at least tolerance and empathy, but the sum totaling of all the charming anecdotes is that he can accept eating a certain symbolic sandwich.
Ah, life goes on in this easy-going tale.
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