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Unhappy marriages occur in cultures the world over, and while the story does expose some of the hypocrisies of Orthodox culture, it isn't, per se, about those hypocrisies, nor does it reduce Orthodox culture to them. It's about Sonia Horowitz's struggle to find out where she really belongs - in doing so she makes huge mistakes and pays a heavy price for her dearly-bought self-knowledge. I've known people who left communities like this one precisely because they couldn't handle the restrictions - that's not an indictment of Orthodox Judaism, it only demonstrates that not everyone born into a certain culture actually belongs there.
The performances are excellent - special mention must go to Christopher Eccleston (a "goy" from Manchester, England, if you please!) for his coldly compelling performance as Sonia's amoral brother-in-law.Read more ›
Apparently this movie was a huge subject of controversy when it was released. The Hasidic community reportedly took offense at their portrayal and the casting of the decidedly Waspish Zellweger in the lead role. Perhaps that's why it slipped under most people's radar.
Their concern is understandable. When a group is rarely portrayed in the movies, any negative generalizations are a sensitive issue. But I think the controversy obscures what is in fact the movie's universal message. Individuals who feel that they don't belong in the community in which they've lived their entire lives and how or if they break out of that mold. The problem is not with the Hasidic community but with Sonia herself. She has to discover who she is. Unfortunately, Boaz Yakin may have been too subtle with his message and as a result most people missed it.
For the most part, I enjoyed the movie. Like Fresh, Boaz Yakin's previous film, it's a bit uneven. (Interestingly, Fresh was a source of controversy in the African American community for it's subject matter. Perhaps this is a pattern with Yakin.) It's seems as if the director's vision may have been too ambituous for what he had to work with at times.
To me, the movie was NOT about the Hasidic way of life. I could see this film holding just about as relevant even if I replaced the community potrayed in it with any other. It is about the marital suffering of two people who are very different in their moorings.
Renee Zellweger, the pivot, does a very convincing job of showing the desperation in a young woman's personal search, Sonia, who embarks on a search for not only herself but also her place in the world -- for the duration of the film Renee gave Sonia the precise dignity and emotion that the role deserved.
The supporting cast were strong, Juliana Margulies certainly showing that she's doesn't always play the 'nice girl'. Christopher Eccleston was convincingly wicked and Glenn Fitzgerald puts in a credible performance as Mendel, the husband, capturing the essence of the role commendably.
Bordering sometimes on being a chick-flick, the movie generally deals with feminine issues, and I would think that the emotional dominion would have it seldom appeal to a male audience. Which is quite evident in the other belittling reviews here.
I recommend this film highly, although it is an intense one and perhaps not for every Joe Blogg. Make sure you're in the mood.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a friend recommended this movie and of course I went on AMAZON, it was an interesting story about a woman's growth and the unpleasant choices sometimes we all have to make to live... Read morePublished 21 days ago by sonde
Great movie. Sorry she was treated so badly but I watched it 3 times since I received it.Published 4 months ago by blackcatsoda
ENJOYED THIS MOVIE. NOT EVERYONE CAN FIT INTO THE ORTHODOX COMMUNIITY.Published 5 months ago by nilegirl
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