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The Essential Guide to Bristol
15 January 2010
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My Father My Lord (PG)

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The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/12/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 73 mins

Beautifully shot, impressively directed and powerfully emotional drama with terrific performances from its three leads.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by David Volach and set in modern-day Israel, My Father My Lord stars Assi Dayan as ultra-orthodox Rabbi Abraham Eidelmann, who's devoted to both his wife Esther (Sharon Hacochen Bar) and their young son Menahem (Ilan Griff). The plot, such as it is, revolves around several key moments in which Abraham's strict orthodoxy conflicts with his sensitive son's burgeoning interest in the natural world, such as: Menahem asking whether dogs go to heaven after witnessing a dog trying to join its deceased owner in an ambulance; Abraham shooing a mother bird away from its nest at the school (according to an obscure Torah commandment), much to Menahem's horror; and Abraham commanding Menahem to tear up a photograph of an “idolatrous” African tribesman.

The Good
The acting is extremely impressive throughout; there's very little dialogue but all three leads have extraordinarily expressive faces that radiate love and affection, even while Abraham is ostensibly chastising his son. The scene where Menahem tears up the photograph, his face streaming with silent tears, is extremely moving, as is the devastating emotional climax, where Esther literally throws Abraham's words back at him.

The film is beautifully shot throughout, courtesy of Boaz Yackov's stunning cinematography, which is often in tune with Menahem's inquisitive view of the natural world, studying things like the light in a tea glass or swirls of hair in the bath. There's also an effective cello-based soundtrack that works well.

The Great
Volach's great strength as a director is to wring powerfully emotional moments out of tiny gestures and images. As such, the film is packed with scenes that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema, such as Esther writing down her (unseen) grievance against her husband and his subsequent reaction on reading it.

Worth seeing?
In short, My Father My Lord may seem deceptively slight on plot but it's a superbly acted, beautifully shot and emotionally devastating drama that's well worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

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My Father My Lord (PG)
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