Thursday, February 25, 2010

PIFF Day 12 - "Nora's Will"

The premise for "Nora's Will" (4) had some potential in the right hands. A woman in her 60's commits suicide, leaving careful instructions for preparation of a Passover Seder that will occur on the day the family will be finally allowed to bury her under Jewish law. Her careful planning brings together the atheist husband from whom she has been divorced for 20 years, their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, a cousin, a beloved housekeeper, and members of the tight-knit community of religious Jews in Mexico City.

This film seemed to be very popular with the mostly older PIFF audience and has gotten good user ratings on IMDb. I, however, found it to be too shallow and even frustrating. For one thing, a suicide isn't a very good basis for a film that is trying to be a gentle comedy. The woman (who we're told has attempted suicide 14 times but we don't ever acquire any deeper understanding of why) has set things up so that her ex-husband (still her neighbor) will be the one to find her and will be tasked with sitting with her body for several days because it can't be buried without violating Jewish laws that he has rejected. Then everyone rolls their eyes when he is irritated and doesn't always react generously. It seemed to me that this film, which was supposed to be amusing and heartwarming (and most people seemed to find it so) wasn't very emotionally honest.

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