Forbidden love

Film Festival Spotlight

FÉLIX AND MEIRA (Maxime Giroux) Rating: NNNN

Young Orthodox Jewish mother Meira (Hadas Yaron) falls in love with non-Jewish Félix (Martin Dubreuil) in this strong feature from emerging director Maxime Giroux, which won the best Canadian feature award at TIFF 2014.

The story of forbidden love is not new, but Giroux’s take is, especially his ability to empathize with all the characters, including Meira’s husband, Shulem (Luzer Twersky). Giroux refuses to make him a patriarchal villain rather, he’s a man utterly mystified by what’s happening to his wife. A scene where he ineffectually attacks Félix on the street provokes sympathy in unusual ways.

Giroux uses music to great effect, conveying Meira’s alienation from her community through the secular blues and pop music she’s attracted to. An archival clip of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing Didn’t It Rain is electrifying.

The pic has some narrative weaknesses – we don’t know much about Félix or Meira’s backstory, except that Félix was bullied by his dad – and the pace is a bit slow.

But you get a sense of the closed, claustrophobic, Yiddish-speaking Hassidic community Meira wants to leave and the challenges facing two people imagining a mixed marriage.

Giroux is a talent to watch.

Félix And Meira screens twice (1 and 4 pm) as part of the Jewish Film Festival Chai Tea And A Movie series on Sunday (December 14) at Empress Walk. If you miss it here, it also screens as part of TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten series next month.   

Film festivals this week

Beer Film Festival Three films – Strange Brew (Nov 30), Beerfest (Dec 7) and The World’s End (Dec 14) – plus three breweries, over three Sundays with samples before the show. $9.50 each. Rainbow Cinemas Market Square, 80 Front E. rainbowcinemas.caTo Dec 14    

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