By Jodi Danis: Love is complicated. But for Herman Broder (Ron Silver), it’s even more so as he juggles not one, not two, but three romantic relationships in post-World War II New York City.
First released in 1989, “Enemies, A Love Story” is based on a novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer. As the main character juggles a Gentile wife, a volatile mistress, and a cynical wife returned from the grave, the film injects dark humor to cover its serious themes. The indecisive Broder divides his time between his new spouse, Yadwiga (Margaret Sophie Stein), the simple yet adoring Polish woman and his sexy lover Masha (Lena Olin). Add in the untimely arrival of his presumed-dead first wife, Tamara (Anjelica Huston), and things become even more problematic for the despondent Broder. At one point, so deeply entrenched in his many lies and relationships, he cannot even choose the correct train sign between Brooklyn, the Bronx or Manhattan.
Director and co-screenwriter Paul Mazursky deftly explores fidelity and faith amidst characters trying to rebuild their lives after great loss. The film is haunting, tragic, darkly comic and erotic at times, with strong performances by the four main leads. Huston and Olin were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress awards. The late comedian-actor Alan King plays a small role as a not-so-holy rabbi whom Broder works for as a ghostwriter.
The film has aged well in its storytelling and is worth a revisit for those who may have seen it years ago. As we watch Broder become more and more entangled in a web of his own weaving, as we meet characters deeply haunted by their horrific past, we cannot help but wonder why some individuals are resilient enough to overcome their scars, yet others ultimately self-destruct.
Jodi Danis is the executive assistant to the publisher and managing publisher at the AJT and has a background in writing, editing, and teaching.
By Sara Ghitis: Some films are unforgettable. The AJFF’s 30th anniversary film this year is one of them. It’s one of my all-time favorites: “Enemies, A Love Story.”
Directed by Paul Mazursky and featuring Ron Silver, Lena Olin, Margaret Sophie Stein and Anjelica Huston in the main roles, the movie is based on the novel by the same name, written by master storyteller Isaac Bashevis Singer and representative of the best Yiddish literary tradition.
Set in New York during the long aftermath of the Holocaust, the film manages to capture the author’s brilliant ability to surprise, the pathos, the eroticism and the wicked humor. This is an unusual tale, but in fact, it may be less unusual than we imagine.
Much to look forward to at the theater as the screening will be enhanced by the actual presence of Olin, one of the lead actors. I hope you will love this film as much as I do.
Sara Ghitis, a former producer at CNN, is the founder of Oral Histories and Life Stories and was an interviewer for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project; The Mathausen Project, Vienna; Survivors of Forced Laborers Documentation Project, Berlin. She’s a docent at the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum and has been involved with AJFF for several years.