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The Quarrel (1991)

PG-13 | | Drama | 5 November 1992 (USA)
Montreal 1948. On Rosh Hashanah, Chaim (a Yiddish writer) is forced to think of his religion when he's asked to be the tenth in a minyan. As he sits in the park, he suddenly sees an old ... See full summary »


Eli Cohen


Chaim Grade (short story "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner"), Joseph Telushkin (play) | 1 more credit »

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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Saul Rubinek ... Hersh Rasseyner
R.H. Thomson ... Chaim Kovler
Merlee Shapiro Merlee Shapiro ... Waitress (as Marlee Shapiro)
Arthur Grosser Arthur Grosser ... Shames
Jay Aitchess Jay Aitchess ... Cantor
Michael Sinelnikoff ... Hospital Patient
Ellen David Ellen David ... Freda (as Ellen Cohen)
Ari Snyder Ari Snyder ... Rosenberg
Robert Haiat Robert Haiat ... Joshua


Montreal 1948. On Rosh Hashanah, Chaim (a Yiddish writer) is forced to think of his religion when he's asked to be the tenth in a minyan. As he sits in the park, he suddenly sees an old friend whom he hasn't seen since they quarrelled when they were yeshiva students together. Hersh, a rabbi, survived Auschwitz and his faith was strengthened by his ordeal, while Chaim escaped the Nazis, but had lost his faith long before. The two walk together, reminisce, and argue passionately about themselves, their actions, their lives, their religion, their old quarrel, and their friendship. Written by Kathy Li

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PG-13 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 November 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A vita See more »


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Did You Know?


Chaim Kovler: Why did I feel compelled to follow this man, certainly not to join in prayers that I stopped believing in years ago and not to perform a mitzvah for a man who is beyond our help anyway.
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User Reviews

Powerful, moving film, more so than short story on which it is based
6 October 1998 | by spagerSee all my reviews

The Quarrel is a 90-minute dialogue between two Jewish men who cannot decide if they are dear friends or bitter enemies. When I heard it described thus, I felt little attraction to this film.

But the plot so beautifully weaves together the threads of friendship lost and found, of camaraderie, hurt, loss, and theological disagreements that the end comes all too soon. Both men are the sole Holocaust survivors of their respective families, and their mutual consolation and joy is in constant tension with the diametrically opposite conclusions to which they arrived based on their common suffering. This, then, is their quarrel, and it picks up threads that have been running throughout thier lives.

The two lead actors carry the passion and emotion with admirable intensity. The script they have to work with is an adaption of a short story by Chaim Grade. While the short story seems primarily focused on the religious differences between the men, the script weaves in many other threads, which are present but in the background of Grade's tale. The result is a powerful emotional roller-coaster ride that brings out the religious argument all the more clearly for the extra details. But while Grade seems to favour the position of Chaim Kovler (Thomson), the film is more ambivalent in its own conclusions.

The setting of their discussion is in a beautiful park in Montreal, and they battle crowds, the forests, and the elements as they battle one another in their wits. In this way, the natural environment almost becomes a significant secondary character, lending a quality of earthiness to the film, much in keeping with the character of the Hebrew scriptures around which much of their debate centres.

While most of the debated issues remain open by the film's end, a moving dance scene brings much-needed healing to these hurt and lonely people, and assures them and the viewers that one small step of redemption and restoration has been taken. A highly recommended film.

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