A Price Above Rubies – 1998 – English
Film directed in 1998 by Boaz Yakin, and starring Renée Zellweger, Christopher Eccleston, Allen Payne, Kim Hunter, Edie Falco, Glenn Fitzgerald, Julianna Margulies, Don Wallace, John Randolph…
Synopsis: Sonia is a young woman who tries to escape the strict social and religious restrictions of the Brooklyn community in which she was born. Tired of her against her cultured but emotionally cold husband, she decides to rebel by starting an affair.
Review: I was Sonia. I lived a life in many ways similar to her’s – i.e., married a ‘yeshiva buchor’, supported him, rebelled (emphatically!), was ostricised and found the whole thing stifling, intollerant, conformist (woe betide to those who dared to be a bit different), suppressive and above all 100% hypocritical (I don’t look Jewish and if I had a penny for the number of ‘orthodox’ men who tried to pick me up, I could retire!). Mendel’s brother’s behaviour wouldn’t surprise me in real life one bit.
I was absolutely amazed how authentically the characters in this film portrayed the yeshiva going community – to the point where I actually read the credits at the end to see how many of the actors were Jewish! Although Judaism is supposed’ to be a lot of things (i.e., the man is ‘encouraged’ to see to his wife’s pleasure), it is in fact quite often the opposite. As is often said, the religion is fine, it’s the people who leave a lot to be desired. And that came across so clearly in this film. Sonia was ostracised for not conforming (yup, that sounds about right), her husband was so ‘devout’ (a tzadik) he was ashamed of his – and her – sexuality that he tried to repress it (yep, right again), the yentas (busy boddies) in the community had a lot to say (um hmmm) – absolutely everything about the movie was so spot on it was eerie – even down to the Yiddish-isms, accents and dress.
It brought back a lot of unpleasant memories…but that is only a testament to how authentic the film really was. In terms of storyline, content, acting, music – I thought it was excellent.