“Honor your father and your mother that your days may be longer upon that land which the LORD, your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12)
By Roger Costa
Three siblings are trying to understand God’s mysterious ways when they face a big tragedy in the family: the loss of their mother. This surprisingly uplifting and thoughtful Israeli/French drama filled with good humor and irreverence is written and directed by Shemi Zarhin, a prolific filmmaker who has been recognized for his works, being nominated several times for his directorial efforts at the prestigious Israeli Academy Awards.
The complications of daily life have been suffocating members of a family to the point they’ve been giving up on continuing their relationship with the Creator. “I will go my way now, God” says Dorona, the lead character in this multi-form self-journey statement. She’s totally disappointed with the fact she can’t get pregnant after rigorous miscarriages. Her marriage is falling apart, and so is her family- everyone is distant, until a tragedy brings everyone together. Dorona is not the only one struggling to figure out a way out of the load of troubles. Her brothers are also in conflict, the younger is a gay man shattered by an unsettling life-style and the oldest, a very religious and serious family man, is overwhelmed with his responsibilities.
The death of their mother brings them together, and those moments will help them revive emotions and stories they shared in childhood. If that wasn’t enough, they are obliged to face their father, for whom they despise for unknown reasons, and this uncomforting meeting will break them apart: the father reveals to have a reproductive disability and so their mother maintained an affair abroad in order to get pregnant, giving them birth. The shocking and confusing news will cause a tempest over these kids’ lives as they feel all sorts of anguish: loss, betrayal, abandonment, and most essential, their genealogy and honor at risk.
Disturbed by the drastic situation that puts them in a seriously miserable condition, especially given the traditions they believe in, they decide going on a quest for the father they never knew, in order to make peace with mother, the past and themselves. But despite the fact Dorona is trying to avoid God’s hard-working Hand, His presence is felt throughout the narrative as the mediator for family restoration, forgiveness and surfacing forgotten values.
As they try to understand life as it is, director Zarhin accomplishes an amazingly powerful statement of God’s powerful providence over His children no matter what mistakes have been troubling along the way. The director follows these characters, presenting contemporary elements of social, political and religious importance, making efforts to bring them closer to the essence of their relationship with the Creator, with themselves, and with their parents, and also to witness the lessons they’ll collect along the way while in search for answers.
Incredibly performed by the entire cast, most importantly attentions to Rotem Zussman for her honest portrayal as Dorona, a young woman facing an early existential crisis, freshly spontaneous and supported by the standards of truth and integrity, “The Kind Words” is worth every step of the Family Preservation investigation.
(Now playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and other cities. A Strand Releasing)