Monthly Archives: March 2016

“DORIAN GRAY”— A New Web Series

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“DORIAN GRAY”

A New Web Series

Amos Lassen

It has been 126 years since Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture Of Dorian Gray was first published” but the story of a man who stays endlessly young as a picture of him ages and withers still has a powerful place in popular culture. Now a new gay-themed web series is coming that continues on the story into the modern day.

It criticizes gay culture as being overwhelmingly white and straight and that it isn’t difficult to tell interesting tales of people of different cultures and ethnicities. The show follows Heath, “an intrepid young art history researcher who digs into the mystery of his elusive boss, and discovers that the man is actually the ageless and immortal Dorian Gray who is surrounded by an entire intriguing and dangerous world of the supernatural.”

Unfortunately it looks like we may have to wait a little while for the show itself, which is being funded thanks to a grant from a Canadian film development group. In the meantime, here is the shows first trailer.

“The Family Parsha Book” by Shalom Hammer— A Joy That is Educational and User Friendly

the family parsha book

Hammer, Shalom. “The Family Parsha Book”, Magid Books, 2006, new edition, 2016.

A Joy That is Educational and User Friendly

Amos Lassen

I love to give divrei Torah because of the discipline involved with not only writing one but also finding something new that I had not noticed previously. It is the challenge of preparing that gets me going so that when I sit down to write I have a lot of energy. I am always looking for new approaches to the Torah and my latest find, “The Family Parsha Book” may seem to be simple but it is actually quite intense. A seed is also simple but when planted with love and care and nourished, it grows into a mighty tree. I find this also to be true of studying Torah and we see what at first seem to be simple stories are actually the beginning of deeper thoughts. What I found with this book is how user friendly it is. It has fine jumping off points for discussion and is suitable for all ages. The questions that are included encourage not just discussion but almost total interaction with what we read each week. When I was a youngster, my father would often give us assignments about the Parsha so that we could bring them to the table at Shabbat lunch and have family discussions and I remember what great fun that was. However, it was also a bit frightening because of us wanted to please my father by showing him how well we prepared. If I had had this book back then it would have made my life so much easier but then again, I doubt I would trade that preparation for anything. We knew that we could make our father proud by finding something fascinating and that, I believe, was the real goal for those Shabbatot.

Today it is not too difficult for kids to prepare discussions for Shabbat and this book makes it all the easier. We see that talking about Torah can be great fun. For each Parsha, Rabbi Shalom Hammer provides a “Parsha Puzzler” that presents an analysis of one of the major issues in each Torah portion, promoted a thorough analysis of one of the main issues in each Parsha through questions that bring up points of discussion on Jewish laws that relate to the answer. By going over these laws, we see the connection between the written and oral law. The Puzzlers ask participants to think about how the newly learned concepts and follow them to their logical conclusions. In this way memories become long term and last. “Parsha Points” both highlight and review the reading and this allows those who are not familiar with Torah or have a limited knowledge to take part. These points list the fundamental ideas in the Torah portions being studied and are followed by questions that prompt answers in an alphabetically and ordered manner

There are also sections on the Haftarot that emphasize the relation between the Parsha and the Haftarah. There is a section of Learning Lessons that focus on moral and ethical lessons that come out of the weekly portion allowing us to identify with from the Parsha.

As it was in my youth, the Shabbat table served as the main family meeting place where our commitment to Torah was the main purpose (of course, aside from the family being together). Youngsters love games—the capture their attention and I can tell you that with a career in education, this also works in the classroom. Learning is to be a pleasure and not an onus and understanding is as important as the understanding is how we get to it. The journey is important as the destination.

The book also contains a glossary in both Hebrew and English. Sometimes we forget the importance of the basic idea and we need to teach others to survey that which is to be learned and use those other three “R’s”, Read, Recite and Review. Learning is most effective when one questions the material to be learned. I decided today to look at the section on this weeks portion, “Shemini” for two reasons—first, I am chanting it Saturday morning and knowing what it says makes it come alive and secondly, there is not a lot there to talk about aside from the deaths of Nadav and Avihu and the laws of Kashrut. What I had forgotten is that in this Parsha is the section on holiness. Suddenly I began to wonder if we need to be holy these days and before I knew it, there I was digging into the text and finding a great deal to think about.

Spiritually the book is a treasure trove. The section on faith is gorgeous as is the treatment of Vayera. There are some great tidbits like what we learn about dough that is slow to rise in a holy place and God’s clarification that we, as Jews, cannot be slow about holiness and that the mitzvoth will come to us. How many times have we heard that God helps those who help themselves and this is true for faith and holiness.

I am sure that there are those who wonder if this is mainly for Orthodox Jews and whether it is suitable for other streams of Judaism. Remember that whether you are Orthodox, Reform, Conservative or belong to a Reconstruction or Renewal group, we all read the same Torah and we all have the same questions. My answer is an emphatic “YES”, this is a book for Jews, plain and simple. You and every one you study Torah with will look forward to learning.

 

 

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“The Rose Temple: A Child Holocaust Survivor’s Vision of Faith, Hope and Our Collective Future” by Lucia Weitzman Solomon and S. Mitchell Weitzman— Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future

the rose temple better cover

Weitzman, S. Mitchell with Lucia Weitzman Solomon. “The Rose Temple: A Child Holocaust Survivor’s Vision of Faith, Hope and Our Collective Future”, Berl Media, 2016.

Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future

Amos Lassen

For as long as I can remember, Holocaust Memorial Day has always been difficult for me. I can truly appreciate the braveness of those who were able to live but, like so many others, I cannot comprehend how the Holocaust happened and how the world stood by as innocent victims were murdered for no other reason than their religion. I just cannot imagine hate to such a degree and although we may never understand it, it is part of history and should never be forgotten. We must also never cease to honor those who helped save lives and perhaps we should embrace the survivors and those who helped rather than hate what happened. This is the valuable lesson we get in “The Rose Temple: A Child Holocaust Survivor’s Vision of Faith, Hope, and Our Collective Future”.

The book is part memoir, part historical narrative and a call to action. These days we can take action against horrible events in history whereas during World War II we did not have the ability or the know how to do so. Here we have the story of Lucia Weiztman who had been born Jewish but raised Catholic and who had to struggle with a dual identity. She is a Holocaust survivor who at midlife began a spiritual journey that she had not anticipated. She discovered the desire to help others as she was in the process of being empowered to find the way to connect to God and to share that with others. The connection is not only a Godly one but also one between people. This transformation began with her own struggle to survive not just physically but spiritually as well. In this book, with help from her son, Mitchell, she takes on a journey. Lucia, after the death of her husband began a spiritual exploration that mother and son shared and as they did they were drawn closer together.

“Birth is a beginning

and death a destination

And life is a journey…”

The real value of a life is in the journey one makes and what we see here is a journey complete with spiritual revelations that bring about a trust and an experience in faith. Lucia lost her identity when it was taken from her by the Nazis. This is the story of her determination to reclaim that identity and her heritage. No on could have anticipated the unexpected directions that this would take her. We are so lucky to be able to take that journey with her. I found that as Lucia searched for who she was, I was challenged to ask myself who I was. I have always felt that one of the attributes of literature is transformation. By this I mean that if a book does not challenge me to think, then I wonder exactly why it was written. The transformation need not be anything immediately noticeable or felt but I must feel that I accomplished something by reading and that can be as small as a chuckle or as large as sending me off in a new direction. “The Rose Temple” is most definitely transformative and I think that each person who reads it will be transformed in different ways. The one thing that humans have above all other life forms is a sense of identity and we only realize what that is once it is taken from us. For example, those who are sent to prison and not referred to by name in most cases but my number and while many do not realize this, inmates not only have their freedom taken away but their identities as well.

Lucia’s journey is one of the heart and soul and it is an inspiration. We see what transpires from simple meetings that become events that change lives. Lucia looks for answers that will lead her to the meaning of life. She has questions that come from deep within and as she finds meaning in her life, we begin to see the Holocaust through different eyes. As we move between past and present, we see different aspects of our heroine and I could not help but be superciliously reminded of those “Before and After” commercials and advertisements that we once popular. We wonder if Lucia has been given the task of saving a life and if what she learns and dreams of lead to some kind of mysticism.

The Rose Temple is a good choice for those seeking something more than a Holocaust history or memoir: something steeped in spiritual exploration and, ultimately, a journey to arrive at the crux of the meaning of life. While it’s a heady read that ultimately asks readers to examine their own lives, it’s also fueled with the passion of an individual’s journey and thus is accessible to a wide audience: very highly recommended as a standout read in the literature of Holocaust survivors and Jewish spiritual exploration.

“The Rose Temple” is also a call to call to action. After her husband died, Lucia went to Jerusalem after struggling with her dual “identity” as both a Catholic and a Jew. Arriving at the Western Wall both her grief and the her many difficulties rose to the surface and she felt herself confronting God and she felt she received an answer from her maker. This was followed by other mystical events Lucia found herself questioning God’s presence during the horrors of the Holocaust when suffering and evil were the plans of the day, leading her on a global quest for answers to the question of God s presence during times of evil and suffering. Finding personal meaning as she journeyed, Lucia now felt the desire to show others how to find a path that takes them to God and to each other.

Lucia’s spiritual journey was the way that was able to understand her mystical dreams that entered every aspect of her life and it was on that journey that she learned who she was and her purpose in her life. Lucia’s son, Mitchell is the narrator of the story and we sense the influence his mother’s story has had on him. He shares that Lucia was basically a pragmatist whose transition back to Judaism had nothing to do with theology. It was a practical move because she wanted to share a life with her Jewish husband and even back then when she had strange and mystical incidents, she should have pragmatically ignored them. Rather, she decided to face her past and to listen to whatever was calling upon her to act but she did so silently and privately. He tells us that his mother believed that she had been called by God to transform the world into a better place than the one she was born into and she further believed that each person plays an essential part in her calling.

All of us want to know why and how the Holocaust could have happened but that is just one of the questions about the Holocaust. “The Rose Temple” does not have the answers but it does have a new way of thinking about the darkest period in the history of the world.

“LE PARCOURS”— The Obstacle Course

le parcours

“Le Parcours”

The Obstacle Course

Amos Lassen

TBWA Paris and Inter-LGBT France have come together to create the very short but very effective film, “Le Parcours” (“The Course”). As the title suggests, it’s about an obstacle course, but this is a metaphorical one looking at the difficulties faced by many LGBT people around the world.

Ben Briand of Moonwalk Films directed the short that is entirely in the first person and mixes the real and the imaginary to show the struggles with school, friends, family and identity that many young LGBT people have to deal with. The idea is to show, the “energy, patience and courage it takes to get up every morning and keep moving despite prejudice and violence” for many LGBT people.

http://www.moonwalk-films.com/movies/le-parcours

“I PROMISE YOU ANARCHY”— Friends and Lovers

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“I Promise You Anarchy “  (“Te Prometo Anarquia”)

Friends and Lovers

Amos Lassen

“I Promise You Anarchy” and director Julio Hernandez Cordon pay tribute to film noir with this story about Miguel (Calva Diego Hernández) and Johnny (Eduardo Martínez Peña), two childhood friends living in the capital of Mexico. They roam the city streets on a skateboard during the day and at night they are lovers who explore new sensations.

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To earn money, they regularly sell their blood on the Black Market black to a nurse (Gabriel Casanova) who is also acts as a functioning moral compass. Their life changes when a large sum is proposed for a large amount of blood. When this goes awry, Miguel’s mother sends him away from the city and away from Johnny. It is then that Miguel has to find the way to meet his fate.

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We watch realism alternating with noir in this film and I really did not want this film to end. The two leads are played by non-professional actors and they amazingly portray the feelings that they go through in the film. The cinematography is unique and fascinates us with the many images that we see. Here is a story that deals with both cowardice and temptation that holds us spellbound as the story unfolds.

Teenage Miguel has two major passions in his life— one is his boyfriend Johnny who just happens to be the son of his wealthy family’s maid, and skateboarding. Whilst Johnny may share these passions, he also has a very jealous girlfriend too.  They all live in Mexico City albeit in quite opposite settings as Johnny is living rough on the streets and always on the look out to make some easy money.

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These two young men jump at the chance of getting involved with some petty criminal plot that involves rounding up some desperately poor people off the streets to illegally donate blood to some drug gangsters. There is good money to be made, but on this particular occasion the deal goes horribly wrong when armed thugs suddenly herd the donors into a truck and just simply drive them away never to be heard off again.

When the boys go off to search for an explanation from the middle man who set the deal up, things go from bad to worse as they take matters into their own hands. Johnny betrays his one-time boyfriend and subsequently is left with no other choice than to immediately get out of town as soon and possible.

 

The film insinuates that it is a potential gay romance but instead it becomes an ill-conceived and rather messy crime noir drama that does not hold up. The cast consists of amateurs that Hernandez recruited via the pages of Facebook yet they give a rawness to the piece that at least has a very visual stylish look to it.

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Writer/Director Hernandez Cordon seems to be primarily interested in photographing non-pro actors skateboarding around the city. Unfortunately, this does not help the film. Miguel and Johnny live in a constant present, loving each other clumsily, as they beg for a bit of emotion in an urban and brutal world. They are in a post-adolescent limbo inhabited by impatient skater tribes who blindly try to find love through sex and seek hope in drugs, as they turn blood trafficking into a business. This is a desolated, apocalyptic and current Mexico. Miguel holds on to both his ingenuousness, hoping it would cure him, and to love, which is the only thing that cannot be bought or sold and the only way to open the doors into a world of dreams that would take him away from the sad world that he lives in.

“Not Just Another Pretty Face” edited by Louis Flint Ceci— Stories, Poems and Essays

not just another pretty face

Ceci, Louis Flint. “Not Just Another Pretty Face”, (with photography by Dot), Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2016.

Stories, Poems and Essays

Amos Lassen

Several years ago, I met Louis Ceci at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. He was something of a new author having just published his first book, “Comfort Me”, and I was lucky enough to be asked to review it. I still remember what an interesting and well-written read it was. Five or six years passed and I forgot about that book until recently when I received a copy of “Not Just Another Pretty Face” that Ceci has edited. And just be reading his introduction (or “Frontpiece”) as it is called here, I was taken momentarily back to that first book and I was surely glad that Ceci is still writing.

“Not Just Another Pretty Face” is a collection of stories, poems, and essays that have a single common element  that unites them— all of the writing is the result of looking at photographs of go-go boys that were taken by photographer named Dot.  Looking at the table of contents I feel that I am going to reunite with some old friends and make some new ones and the twenty-five entries are evenly divided between authors that I am familiar with— Lewis de Simone, Salome Wilde, Trebor Healy, Rob Rosen, Raymond Luczak, Jim Provenzano, David Platt, Stephen Mead, Jeff Mann, “Nathan Burgoine, Vinton Rafe McCabe, Daniel Allen Cox and Michael Carroll and some that I either I do not remember reading before or whom I have never read before— Richard Michaels, Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess, Gregory L. Norris, Mark Ward, Mike McClelland, Miodrag Kojadinovic, Alan Martinez, Eric Schuckers, Miles Griffs, Jim Metzger, Jonathan Lay and Richard Wilde Lopez.

I often have problems reviewing anthologies and that is because I am torn between reviewing each selection as a separate piece and yet part of a whole or simply reviewing the entire book as a single unit. I am still not sure what I will do here….I am going to let my thoughts direct me. Of this I am sure—the entire book gets five stars not just because of the idea that propelled it but because there are so many good pieces of writing in it. (It would be so easy to stop writing right here and tell you to go out and get a copy but that is not fair).

Twenty-three photos of male go-go dancers are the basis for stories, poems, essays, and drama by twenty-seven authors and we get revealing unexpected mysteries, romance, fantasy, and humor.

Let’s face it—there is something very erotic about a go go boy yet there is also something very sad about him. On one had, he exhibits a sense of cockiness and self assurance as if to say, “I know who I am and I know am hunky and good-looking. All you have to do is adore and worship me for what I represent. On the other hand, if the go go boy is so hot and so good looking, what is he doing hustling for cash in a gay bar. While he represents erotic near-perfection, we sometimes see him as lost or broken and in our fantasies, we can save him while we think he is sexually interested in us. We want to be the focus of his sexual desire even though we know that is probably an impossibility. What we read in these selections show us the go go boy as not only and not always a object to be adored but also as fun, sarcastic, ironic, full of play, ominous and fearful. They are not the paragons that they make us think that they are and they have stories waiting to be told by the authors in this anthology. After all, in imagination, everything is possible. We see that what is projected is not always what is. Just as they project on us, we also project on them. Using the reader as the concept of everyman, these selections look at what we assume, what we feel, what are our fantasies and what can we see about ourselves as we see a go go boy gyrate. We go best the stereotype and the archetype to learn about ourselves as we learn about go go boys. I learned reading Ceci’s first novel that there are philosophies grounded in his writing and he has passed that on to his contributors and we see that each entry has something to say. Each writer responds to a photograph of a go go boy. Because they are near nude when we see them, we understand that go go boys have nothing to hide. This is where the stories pick up— if by any reason whatsoever, we could become part of the dancer’s world, would we find more than what we see on the stage?

The photographs that the entries are based upon take the boy out of the go go and then invite us to explore what we see and I am sure that there are those who know or, at least, can guess what they will find. But that is not what you will find here. Because we have such a wide diversity of writers here, so shall we have a wide diversity of what they find as they explore the guy in the photo. The only thing that were told to do was to follow where the photo tasks them. As a result we are told about things we could not have possibly expected and I found this to be true of writers I had read before. It is the diversity and variety of the stories that keeps us reading and looking for the story that is the most relevant to what the reader is looking for. We got beyond go go bars and go go boys and the entire experience is rewarding.

Eventually I will write about each selection but for now I am only giving an overview—when I am ready to do some more investigations, I want other readers to challenge what I have written.

“KISSING DREW”— Turning the Tables

kissing drew poster

“Kissing Drew”

Turning the Tables

Amos Lassen

“Cool kid” Drew (Ben Hargreaves) is James’ (Eden Ocean Sanders) sexual fantasy, but Drew is also James’ bully. In a single moment, James faces off against both Drew the bully and Drew the fantasy. Here is a short film that turns the tables on the victim and the abuser.

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James is secretly in love with the boy whose daily task is to make his life a misery. But this has not prevented James from fantasizing about the way it could have been if they both were on the same team. James has always been able to stick up for himself and he thinks kisses are so much better than punches.

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There is a lot going on in this short film that was directed and co-written by Philip J. Connell and this is because of the natural interplay between the two stars and the idea of a love / hate relationship between victim and bully. We wonder if there is more to Drew’s bullying, than meets the eye.

“Isaac Mizrahi” edited by Chee Perlman— Three Views

isaac mizrahi

Pearlman, Chee (editor). “Isaac Mizrahi”, Yale University Press. 2016.

Three Views

Amos Lassen

Isaac Mizrahi’s first fashion collection in 1986 was met with critical acclaim and that is still true today. In this new book, we have his signature couture collections beautifully illustrated and lavishly presented. We see him here as classic yet inventively re-imagined. Mizrahi pioneered the concept of “high/low” in fashion, and was the first high-end fashion designer to create an accessibly priced mass-market line. He also approached other complex issues through his designs, as well—mixing questions of beauty and taste with those of race, religion, class, and politics. 

While Mizrahi is best known for his clothing, his work in theater, film, and television is also explored in this new volume and with it we get a fascinating discourse on high versus low, modern glamour and contemporary culture. Three essayists, Ulrich Lehmann, Kelly Taxter and Lynn Yaeger discuss Mizrahi’s place in fashion history, his close connection to contemporary art, and the nature of his designs. New photography brings life to Mizrahi’s fashions and an interview with him gives an intimate perspective to his work in diverse media.

My only complain here is that the book ended before I had enough Mizrahi. The book ties in beautifully to the Mizrahi retrospective of the designers work currently at the Jewish museum in NYC. This is a very fine way to acquaint new fashionistas that came after his couture discontinued in 1998. The pieces selected here showcase Mizrahi’s iconoclastic view on fashion but furthermore emphasize his mastery in the usage of bold color.

“GODLESS”— The Boys in the Family”

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“Godless”

The Boys in the Family

Amos Lassen

Writer-director Joshua Lim uses space and our modern-day observations of it as a way to preset his view that God does not exist and as a way to present his views on atheism and we really see this when Nick Flanigan (Craig Johnson) quotes Christopher Hitchins to his younger brother, Steve (Michael E. Pitts) telling him that life here on earth as compared to the vastness and emptiness of space is proof that there is no God.

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Nick has moved back home from college to help his mother now that his father died of stomach cancer. He works as a personal trainer at a local gym. We are never told what Nate was studying but we get an idea when he asks his mother about her dream of becoming a fashion designer that she gave up for the more practical vocation of nursing, and it’s a wonder if he’s as much asking for himself as he is for her.

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Steven Flanigan (Michael E. Pitts), Nate’s older brother left home when Nate was still in high school to study pre-med in Maryland because he wanted to be a doctor. With the death of his mother that has devastated Nate, he comes home.

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The film is set in the days immediately after their mom’s funeral and Steven stays with Nate in their family home and helps to take care of his younger brother. They both take time off work and school to grieve and to remember their lives together. They especially think about the days when they stopped talking to each other.

Ray (Jefferson Rogers), Steven’s boyfriend, comes to visit when Nate is unable to function due to the grief he feels over his mother’s death. We immediately sense the love that Ray has from Steven but it does not appear to be reciprocated.

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The film also looks at Nate’s love life that now he can explore with both parents gone. Before his mother’s passing, Nate hesitantly tells her he’s not straight. He never says he’s gay but only says that the love he has for someone is untraditional. He is so obsessed with this love that he feels he cannot live without him and this is the major cause of his depression. We see Nate acting in childish ways and Steven treats him as a child so much so that Steven has to constantly hold and pacify him. We learn that even before the death of his parents, Steven had to treat him as an infant. Once we learn who is the object of Nate’s secret affection, we understand why the romance is doomed even before it begins. It is a taboo not only because of who it is but also because Nate always wants what he can’t or shouldn’t have. We see that he hangs onto something because it’s there and not for any substantive reason. Instead of a film that deals with maturity and dealing with consequences, this becomes a film about childish desires. The film does not confront the taboo but instead skirts the issue. Director Lim is bold enough to bring the issue up but does so when it is already over.

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Of course, I realize that I have not yet told you what this taboo is evne though I have given a few very strong hints. Let’s say it is about an unusual and unlikely gay relationship. The acting is wonderful all around and you will be left with a great deal to think about including why I began this review talking about atheism.

“45 YEARS”— Reflections on Marriage

45 years

“45 Years”

Reflections on a Marriage

Amos Lassen

“45 Years” opens with the recurrent click of a slide projector and we immediately realize that photographs are the main totems of the film. Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) are preparing to celebrate their 45th anniversary and on the night before, they are pulled apart. Writer-director Andrew Haigh’s beautiful film calls into question the relationship between the lives we lead and the what we accumulate. In “45 Years”, memories are substances that always threaten to turn the ache of nostalgia into the pain of regret.

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The action of the film takes place over a single week yet it also manages to include a personal history of close to fifty years. When Geoff receives word that the body of his former lover, Katya, has been discovered in Switzerland, decades after she fell to her death in an Alpine crevasse, the news sends both him and Kate reeling. Kate feels that this taints everything about their relationship as if her husband had been having an affair.

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Geoff’s grief hovers over the film but the stress is on Kate’s response. Her face becomes twisted and we feel her hurt. There is a deep sense of loss in the film and memories are separated from lives. Kate’s confrontation with totems from a past she can neither change nor prevent moves the film to its end. We see two lifetimes’ worth of grief and the fragility of memories and we realize that the past can never be changed. It is, quite simply, what was. Kate is stunned to learn about the former girlfriend; she had never heard a word about her before.

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We meet a couple who were well set in their ways.  Kate’s the earlier riser, taking their dog for a walk along country lanes, returning to join Geoff for breakfast. Kate and Geoff are clearly happy but then that letter sends Geoff into a nostalgic reverie and she shares the news with Kate and asks he permission to go to identify the body. Kate is surprised that he’d even consider this and was taken even further taken aback when he tells her he was listed as Katya’s next of kin as they’d posed as a married couple.

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Over the ensuing days, we follow Kate as she discusses final preparations with her best friend Lena and she is clearly distracted, and sees the changes in Geoff’s behavior.  Finding herself home alone, Kate makes a trip to the attic, ostensibly looking for photos for the upcoming party, instead indulging her fears and finding something to substantiate them.  On Friday, she finds a note saying Geoff has taken the bus into town.  She drives in to find him and then when they get home, surprises her again with an attempt at lovemaking that evening.  Saturday morning finds him reenergized and solicitous.  A fine party awaits full of friends to fete the happy couple.

1This is a very quiet movie.   Haigh has fashioned his film as a setting for his two stars.  The story of a marriage is the foundation, but it is Courtenay’s unintentionally insensitive matter-of-factness and Rampling’s cautious yet devastated reevaluations that make this film so fascinating. Every scene is filled with humanism in way that makes us feel that we are seeing a documentary. Much of the film takes place within Kate and Geoff’s home, but Haigh avoids making the scenes feel stuffy, melodramatic, or overly theatrical. He also does not use flashbacks. He gives the audience a lot to think about.

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What we do not think about are the outstanding bravura performances of Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. They both found the emotional truths of their roles and their performances are filled with nuance and charisma. They’re also capable of conveying many emotions even during the quiet moments. Essentially, for 93 minutes, you’ll forget that you’re watching Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay because they essentially become their characters.