The title of the film is a double entendre. Of course, the film is about actual redemption, that of a father trying to lead a pious life in the hopes that it’ll create “good” for both himself and his young daughter. But the Hebrew name of the protagonist’s daughter is also Geula, which literally translates to redemption. So, what’s this all about? Who’s redeeming who?
Do Orthodox Jews even believe in redemption if, at the end of the day, it’s all in G-d’s hands? Repeatedly, throughout the film we’re reminded of this when the protagonist is asked how things are going, and he simply responds “Thank G-d”?
In a nutshell, the film explores the lengths to which a parent will go in order to save their child. It addresses the question of whether it’s possible to simultaneously live in both the Orthodox and secular worlds. It considers the horrible hands of fate, from which the devout are not exempt, from and which challenge their beliefs. And it also touches upon how our paths change as we move through life and experience loss and confront old “wounds” and personal insecurities. Very heavy themes, both deep and philosophical, but executed by the screenwriter-directors, Yossi Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov – himself a ba’al teshuvah, newly Orthodox Jew – in the most sensitive and engaging way, with a terrific Hassidic rock soundtrack, to boot. The story unfolds slowly, with the pieces of the puzzle becoming clear rather subtly, as our connection to the protagonist and his moral dilemma deepens. Of the films I’ve screened this year, this is probably one of the most memorable and gut-wrenching. It’s not to be missed and sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Janice Convoy-Hellmann has been involved with the AJFF for almost 10 years, serving on both the Evaluation and Programming committees and pre-screening hundreds of films in advance of the festival.