GALA D: Jeremy Podeswa w/ Stephen Dillane, Rade Sherbedgia. Canada/Greece. 104 min. Sep 6, 6:30 pm Visa Screening Room (Elgin); Sep 6, 8 pm Roy Thomson Hall; Sep 8, 9:30 am Cumberland 1. Rating: NNNN
What better choice for the opening- night gala than a film about immigrants finding peace in our city? Based on Anne Michaels's dense but gorgeous book, Podeswa's adaptation cuts the bulk but keeps the beauty.
Dillane stars as Jakob Beers, a Polish war refugee who saw his family murdered by Nazis as a child and was rescued by a Greek archaeologist, Athos Roussos (Sherbedgia). In Canada, Jakob's inability to shake the horrors of the Holocaust ends his first marriage. Eventually, through a favoured student, Ben (Ed Stoppard), he meets the love of his life, Michaela (Ayelet Zurer).
Ben plays a larger part in the novel, most of which doesn't make it to the sceen. The adaptation does, however, maintain the narrative voice. This means, unfortunately, that we see the women only through the men's eyes, which allows the camera to caress them lovingly but gives the actresses little to do.
But Podeswa's subtle yet varied light palette is stunning, and he gets wonderful performances out of his actors. Dillane and Robbie Kay (as young Jakob, in a nearly wordless performance) are excellent, but the standout is Sherbedgia, better known to Western audiences for his action films. He infuses Athos with the same combination of joy, anguish and love that makes the book and film so moving.