Thursday, August 9th, 2012


José divorced Nora his wife years ago, but he still lives in an
apartment building right across from her in Mexico City. One day, he arrives at
Nora’s apartment with frozen meat packages that the deliveryman had been
instructed to drop off at his place as Nora was out. Jose discovers that she is
actually out of it completely as, after some 30 years of attempting suicide, she
has finally managed to succeed.  However the
process to bury her though turns out to be more difficult than he thinks as
Nora is an observant Jew but as this is the eve of Passover she cannot be
buried for 4 days.
This kicks of a whole series of comings and going at
the Apartment with Jose constantly opening the front door of the stream of
visitors. The officious Rabbi Jacowitz swoops in with his Orthodox ream that
come to prepare the body and the apartment for the Shiva, but then retracts his help once he discovers the cause of Nora’s death, which means she cannot be buried
in a Jewish Cemetery. Unless of course Jose makes a hefty donation to the
Synagogue, and then the Rabbi will make an exception. This however is not
something that Jose a lapsed Jew, who taunts the Rabbi by offering him  ham pizza, will ever agree to do.
As Jose starts to nose around the apartment he soon
learns that Nora had made all arrangements for her traditional Passover dinner
with a mountain of Tupperware containers all properly labeled in the
refrigerator. She has left detailed recipes for her Maid and has also invited
her sister to come help cook. But he also finds something that Nora had left out by accident and its an old photograph of her as a young woman who appears to be having a good time with another man, and suddenly Jose’s
attitude to her changes.   He  now goes out of
his way to book a Christian burial and when their Funeral Directors turn up, it
causes more than a great deal of consternation for the Rabbi’s men.
Eventually Ruben their only son arrives home having cut
short his vacation in the USA and he aggravates the situation further by trying
to appease his conservative Jewish father-in-law rather than support Jose.
Billed as a black comedy (!) this gentle very human
drama focuses on the family dynamics once its matriarch dies suddenly.  What makes the story so engaging is that
newbie writer/director Mariana Chenillo focuses on the roles that Nora played in their lives rather than who she
was as a person, or on the rather grisly subject of suicide itself.  The very fact that she had planned her demise
so meticously helped her family accept that it was really what she wanted to
choose, although Jose still believed that Nora took this path purely to spite
them all.
There are no histrionics or
melodrama in the telling of the story which is underscored by some fine
well-rounded characters, particularly the gruff no-nonses Jose played by veteran
actor Fernando Luján who picked up an Mexican Oscar for his performance.  In fact when the movie was first released in
2008 it picked up many awards including the Mexican Oscar Best Picture and Ms
Chenillo became the first female to win Best Director.
This slow-burning drama with
it’s wee touch of mystery was a great find. 
I’m just sorry it took me a couple of years to get too it.


Posted by queerguru  at  02:46


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