By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The seventh annual Israel Film Center Festival took place between June 3 and 12 this year at The Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center, Manhattan where a diverse assortment of Jewish voices from multiple countries showcased their films. I was given the awesome opportunity to review a handful of titles including this lovely opening night feature. This beautiful and poignant film from Israel tells a fictional, but very realistic story about a devout Chassid who must make some religious compromises to do what’s best for his ailing daughter.
Moshe Folkenflick stars as Menachem, a humble and religious Chassic Jewish man who was once a popular local rock musician and singer. Since committing himself to his faith, Menachem has stayed away from his former band mates and all of the temptations and vices of his former lifestyle. Times have been rather difficult, though. His job at a grocery store doesn’t pay well, and his little daughter Geula (Emily Granin) has been battling cancer. Because her medical treatments are so expensive, Menachem aattempts to get his old band together to make extra money he needs to save his child.
Written and directed by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, who both co-wrote with Erez Kav-El, Redemption is an emotional and affecting film that has a palpable gravity, but never gets overly heavy with dread or torment. Though the protagonist and his daughter face obstacles, Menachem, in his quiet and humble nature, internalizes much of his stress and agony. Things do eventually come to a head for the character, but he ultimately remains undaunted and driven.
Moshe Folkenflick gives an absolutely perfect performance as the unassuming and reverend Menachem. His acting really drives this film and makes the story all the more poignant. Though I am not a member of the Jewish culture of faith, I could still relate and empathize with his struggles. It is sure to resonate with all kinds of audiences, but will most certainly affect those who devotedly practice a religion. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Israeli Jewish Rock is quite enjoyable and jaunty.