Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Unorthodox (2018) Israel Film Center Festival 2019

THE UNORTHODOX kind of vexes me. Not because it is a bad film but because this version of the founding of the Shas party involved an understanding of Israeli politics that I don’t have. When Sephardic Jewish businessman Yaakov Cohen gets pissed off after his daughter is thrown out of school for reasons that boggle the mind (basically the school makes a mistake and then decides she just doesn’t belong there) he takes steps to form a political party.

Taking the film on its own terms THE UNORTHODOX is a good film. Driven by a killer performance by Shuli Rand the film drags us along through its march through history. It’s kind of like watching lightning in a bottle with Rand forcibly stealing center stage and holding the film in the palm of his hand from start to finish. It is a towering performance that makes the film a must see just for that.

As much as I liked the film and the performances I felt a bit adrift. The film is very connected and rooted in Israeli culture and politics and as a result I felt lost. There seemed to be nuances and details that went completely over my head. I kept having the feeling that were I an Israeli or someone with ties to the country I would understand it better. As a result I like the film, I don’t love it.

THE UNORTHODOX is worth a look for anyone who knows Israeli politics or for anyone who wants to see Rand's incredible performance. All others proceed with caution.

THE UNORTHODOX play June 4th at the Israel Film Center Festival. For tickets and more information go here

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