With apologies to my sister

My sister is the film maven in the family. She just is. If you have a question about films, she can probably answer it. She’s been to film festivals on 4 continents- one in a place I had never even heard of.

So, it seems somewhat presumptuous to give a movie review on my website. However, I think she may forgive me. We’ll see.

A couple of nights ago we went with friends to see “Bruriah” – an Israeli film recently released that builds upon the story of Rabbi Meir’s wife, Bruriah, who was known to be a very learned woman. Perhaps you remember the story of the two sons of Bruriah and Rabbi Meir. According to the story, their two sons died on a shabbat while Rabbi Meir was not at home. Bruriah covered them in the next room. When her husband returned, she asked him a question. She posed this situation: someone came and left precious possessions with her. She kept them and cared for them. Finally the owner came back. Should she return them? Her husband said, “of course” and then she led him to the other room where his two dead sons lay.

The film was inspired by another story about Bruriah- one in which she is tested and ultimately fails. The story is filmed in a contemporary context. Modern-day Bruriah is the daughter of a man who has written a book about Bruriah that is thought to be heretical and as a result he and she are shunned. The film begins well. By about halfway through, it has become enjoyable. There is good acting, realistic costume and scenery, and even a little humor. But somewhere, the screenplay or the editing went awry. Suddenly it’s unclear if the film is a parable? a slice of life? a fantasy? And it is not clear that the actors or director knew either. We never really understand what was so heretical about the book. We don’t understand the motivation of the characters. We have difficulty having any sense of who the characters are inside. They seem to act without any observable motivations. By the end of the flim, all four of us were shaking our heads “no.”

Four thumbs down.

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  1. Apology accepted. I would never question your critical abilities, after all we learned criticism from the same person. We may have different tastes in movies, but we usually agree on what is truly bad.

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