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My Mexican Shivah


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Product Details

  • Directors: Alejandro Springall
  • Writers: Alejandro Springall, Jorge Goldenberg
  • Producers: Springall Pictures
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Emerging Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: December 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001IWO6JU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,867 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews

Set in Polanco, a Jewish quarter of Mexico City, and spoken in Spanish, Yiddish and Hebrew, "My Mexican Shivah" is a dramatic comedy about how the death of a man results in the celebration of his life.

According to Jewish belief, from the moment a Jew is born, he or she is accompanied by two angels: the angel of light and the angel of darkness. With the passing of Moishe (75), his family and friends gather to sit shivah, the 7-day Jewish mourning ritual. The spirit angels Aleph and Bet, divine accountants, watch over the mourners actions and what´s been said about the deceased to calculate which angel will accompany Moishe´s soul to the afterlife.

The odds are against Moishe from the beginning. Family dysfunction aside, Moishe´s friends are attending for their own motives. And to make matters worse, while performing his duties, a Chevreman, who is a member of the Chevra Kadisha (sacred funeral society) is milking the family for all they're worth, charging for kosher food, slippers and other shivah goods.

Emotionally unstable and obsessed with staying young, Moishe´s daughter Esther falls apart, crying over a lost tooth and announcing that she is going to have plastic surgery to fix her entire body immediately after the shivah. Meanwhile, Moishe´s son, Ricardo, is attempting to convince a doctor attending the shivah to give his girlfriend an abortion, while his wandering eye leads him to his dead father's lover, Julia Palafox, the notorious Catholic mistress for whom Moishe left his family many years earlier.

Also present are Moishe´s grandchildren, Galia (23) Esther´s daughter, a student at NYU, and her cousin Nicolás (28), a yeshivah student who lives in Israel, hiding from Mexican justice. They can't ignore their mutual attraction exacerbated by their confinement and motivated by the polarity of their values. They are surprised by the passion which leaves behind feelings of guilt for Nicolás, and satisfies Galia´s love of defiance.

Which angel will win the battle for Moishe´s soul? If the shivah reveals anything, it's that Moishe´s family and friends loved him with all his flaws and mystery- and most of all his spirit.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kindermitts on March 15, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great movie! I loved Mexican Shiva! (Need not be a Mexican Jew to enjoy it.)
This movie is well written, informative (if you need a refresher course on the rules of sitting shiva), funny and climactic!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By katzarumatok on August 1, 2014
Format: DVD
This is a remarkable film. The story begins immediately following the death of Moishe, quiet possibly the worst Jew in Mexico (from a halachic standpoint, anyway), and follows his sorely dysfunctional family's efforts to come to terms with his passing during the week-long Shivah after his burial. Meanwhile, two decidedly Chasidishe angels, Aleph and Beth, are watching the goings on and making an effort of their own to weigh in on the quality of Moishe's soul. Juxtaposing elements of telenovela, culture-clash comedy, Magical Realism and Chasidic fable (among other things), the film is very playful and keeps the narrative rolling with a familiar formula of unforeseen events that hit the main characters when they're least expecting them until, finally, things clear up and the family emerges no worse (in fact, better) for wear. This aspect of the narrative is handled very effectively by everyone involved (actors, director, writer) and delivers an immensely entertaining movie. Where the film goes above and beyond expectations is in its deep but subtle reflection on Jewish life in the modern world.

What does the film have to say about Jews and modernity? The key moment of reflection comes at the end of the Shivah when the angels, Aleph and Beth, find that, to their surprise and chagrin, they're unable to make sense out of Moishe's soul. Everything is too complicated, they say, and the entire film is in some ways a prologue to this epiphany. When Jews lived in the world of the shtetl (which the angels are coded to represent through their Chasidishe clothing and manner), the Jewish soul was easily comprehensible and could be discussed and analyzed in concrete, absolute terms like good and evil.
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By Elle on March 16, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was enjoyable for me to watch; although I'd agree with a review I once saw that described it more as a novella with funny parts than a comedy. As a Latina and a Jewish person I had a special interest in seeing the film, but I think most anyone who enjoys foreign cinema would enjoy it as well :)
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You do not need to be of the Jewish faith to LOVE THIS MOVIE. It is a hoot, laugh riot, with many poignent scenes about life, dreams and humanity. Timeless. In Spanish with English subtitles. (It was purchased it as a gift for my brother's family and THEY LOVED IT!)
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