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Rosa Rashevski, this family's matriarch, believed that tango could heal the body better than chicken soup. She is the catalyst for considerable family drama in Rashevski's Tango, an ensemble feature length film by Belgian writer/director Sam Garbarski. Rashevski's Tango is a portrait of three generations of a Jewish family wrestling with issues of identity, love, interfaith marriage and long-held family secrets. The story starts with the death of Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who avoided religion and rabbis, so much so that after the Holocaust she decided not to circumcise her sons - just in case the Nazis returned. Upon her death, to her family's surprise, she had bought a burial site in a Jewish cemetery. Her death makes her family engage in individual and collective soul searching; their relationships to each other shift in order to fill the empty space left by the formidable Rosa. They also begin to examine their own bond to Judaism. Rosa's sons Simon and David, who play chess on the phone together late at night, struggle with their abandonment by their father, who left Rosa decades ago to become Orthodox and make aliyah in Israel. Simon and his Christian wife Isabelle fight over whether Simon will be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Their daughter Nina wants a Jewish husband, but is falling in love with Antoine, who is not Jewish but at least knows how to tango (along with a few other things!). Rosa's grandson Rick is involved with Khadija, a beautiful French Muslim woman, who chides him, "In Palestine you want to kill Arabs, but here you want to marry one." And Rosa's brother-in-law Dolpho, a wise, fallible and comic man, grapples with his new role as head of the family.
About the Director
Writer, director and actor Sam Garbarski is best know for his films Rashevski's Tango and Irina Palm. The film Irina Palm won the Donatello Award (Italian Oscar) for the Best European Union Film. It was also nominated for the Golden Bear Award (Top Prize) at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. Mr. Garabarski co-wrote Rashevski's Tango and Irina Palm with Philippe Blasband. The filmmaker is one of the new generation of Belgian filmmakers with renewed popularity around the world.
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Top customer reviews
Like many contemporary Jewish families--the Rashevskis have sprawled around the world and have become entangled in all sorts of complex relationships. There's even one grandson hoping to marry a Muslim girlfriend. This comedy could quickly sink into offensive humor--except that everyone in this story is sincerely struggling to understand their collective Jewish roots. The event that launches the movie--and sets off all the soul searching--is the sudden death of the family's grand matriarch, Rosa Rashevski.
The moment she dies, her sons seem completely lost! They can't even agree on whether Rosa would have wanted a Jewish funeral. Soon, they discover she did, indeed! And everyone in this sprawling family has to redefine roles, hopes, desires--and their future. There's also a rogue of an elderly uncle who now carries the bulk of the family's history on his shoulders. He steals almost every scene in which he appears--with just the right blend of elegant style and gutsy chutzpah.
Here's what I mean about the Woody Allen twists and turns: In one storyline, an adult granddaughter feels a strong calling back to her family's Jewish origins, but discovers she's not really as Jewish as she thought. Meanwhile, her gentile boyfriend already has started his own conversion process to Judaism--and discovers that he may wind up more Jewish than the Rashevski girl he hopes to marry.
Pretty quickly, it's obvious why the comedic metaphor is a tango--and we do see a little bit of the dancing before the film ends. It would have been all too easy for writer-director Sam Garbarski to fall into stereotypes, yet at every turn he places his toe solidly on the floor and turns away from easy jokes. For instance, the matriarch's two sons? They could have been two-dimensional Jewish worry warts with stereotypical interactions. Instead, these men will surprise you, including their chosen forum for their heartfelt interactions: As insomniacs, they both wake up at 3 a.m. and play chess over the telephone while pouring out their anxieties.
The movie is refreshing and raises all the questions that so many people are raising today.
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