PRAYING WITH LIOR (Ilana Trachtman, U.S.). Some subtitles. 87 minutes. Monday (May 5), 6 pm, Sheppard Grande. Rating: NNN
This shaggy documentary profiles Lior Liebman, a sunny 13-year-old kid from suburban Philadelphia with Down’s syndrome who’s getting ready for his bar mitzvah with the help of his supportive family. Lior loves to pray, which his teachers interpret as a sort of spiritual purity, but the movie seems to believe prayer is simply Lior’s way of connecting to his mother, who died of breast cancer when he was six.
There are moments of deep pain and profound joy here, but director Ilana Trachtman’s insistence on patronizing both her subject (asking questions off-camera in a condescending singsong voice) and her audience (underscoring Lior’s “antics” with cutesy music) keep you from really connecting to them.