VARIOUS POSITIONS (Ori Kowarsky). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (July 1). For venues and times, see Movies, page 105. Rating: NNN
Choosing between your family and your love is a story as old as Shakespeare, if not older, but writer/director Ori Kowarsky gives it a refreshing twist in Various Positions by juxtaposing a close-knit Jewish Orthodox family with postmodern, multicultural Canada.
Law student Josh ( Tygh Runyan ) has an overbearing father, a sanctimonious little brother and a mother who wants to move to Israel. For all that, he seems happy until he meets Cheryth ( Carly Pope ), an arts student with a Jewish father and Anglican mother, a hybrid who would taint the family - in other words, the perfect Canadian.
Josh's dilemma is thrown into sharp relief when his father ( L. Harvey Gold ) disinters a gentile from their cemetery because her presence "stains" the sacred ground. "I'm glad we're no longer being oppressed by that dead woman," Josh comments sarcastically.
Globalization was supposed to purge states of the nationalism that caused two world wars in the last century. Instead, ethnic identities have in some ways become more entrenched. In Various Positions, Kowarsky shows that if the Montagues and Capulets lived in Canada today, they might not battle in the streets but they still probably wouldn't like each other much.