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Abraham Eidelmann, an old ultra-orthodox rabbi, has a young wife, Esther, and a young son, Menahem. He spends all his time praying, studying the Torah and preparing his sermons. Abraham has not much time to devote to Esther, who craves affection, nor to Menahem, who is awakening to life. But today Menahem is happy. His father has accepted to go to the Dead Sea for their holidays. Written by
Boring, seemingly anti-religious; there is some compelling acting; but, the plot fails the message.
This movie is all "message". Made in an arty, low-budget format - with a albeit, serious motif of dark yellowish colouring, a muddled but stated viewpoint and protagonists asking for empathy.
It does not work. Yet, the movie isn't bad. The problem is that the story aims to manipulate. It entertains somewhat, at times. And the scenes at the Dead Sea are interesting and germane.
There is one performance - that of the suffering mother, wife stereotype of many religious mothers - here, the proverbial loving one of one boy. She seems to have absolutely no other purpose in life - although the boy is not yet in his teens, both parents seem to be well into mid-life. OK, the father is a well-respected, self-involved, evidently righteous rabbi - with a flock of well attending followers who listen and almost never register a word, comment or view. But, who is she? What was she, before she became a mother? As portrayed, she appears to be so much more.
The Rabbi, Assaf Dayan. He looks tired. Very studious, caring, so involved in his religion. Distracted. To a fault.
The son. Cute. A caricature though of a young, impressionable youth who asks many questions but understands few answers. Unfortunately, the acting is too stilted here, so there is an element of "he doesn't seem real". His non-performance is a drag on the overall movie. Not bad. Not good.
Esther the wife is the heart of the film. Her life is bereft of much outward meaning, contact with others, or anything except for running a little household, reading a prayer book, being very tired for some reason, and showing love to her son and husband. Her husband merits much questioning - but, Esther, seems to be in some sort of rapture, at times. Who knows? A question - at the core of the film - or not.
The film is relatively short - so, ennui hasn't much time to settle. The scenes are fairly quick and pointed. Yet, the parts are better than the whole.
The message doesn't ring true. The Hebrew title is "Summer Holiday"; it has been changed to "My Father, My Lord" in English. Why? Such a discrepancy? The English title basically gives it away, if only it had an (!) exclamation mark at the end .... Then, we might hear Tevye the Milkman breaking into his patterned speech of "Why oh Lord did you have to choose we Jews?" "We pray, we do righteous deeds, we are good. Yet, you persist in all this suffering that you heap upon us! Why not choose some other people? For a century or two, might be a good suggestion? Oh Lord!"
There is a side story of a mother bird and two new babies - more underlying meaning here.
Change the name of the movie once more to "Oy Vey - Life Can Be Such A .... Life !". Or something more to the point.
Yet, there is something well worth seeing here. So, despite my low rating - for the dumbness of it all - I recommend this movie, but, don't take it much to heart. Gevalt!
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