R | | Drama Romance
Review - Matt Mungle
Now showing at Angelika Dallas and select theaters
Felix and Meira had every opportunity to wow and engage but sadly nothing about this film ever seems to connect. That is disappointing on many levels but mainly because the characters are so interesting and thought provoking.
Meira (Hadas Yaron) is a young, Hasidic Jewish wife and mother who feels trapped within the rules and regulations of her Orthodox community. She likes popular music, art, and culture. You get the sense that she isn't rebellious as much as searching. When she strikes up a casual friendship with Felix, a single man who lives in her neighborhood, it causes her to stray even further from her marriage and her responsibilities. The two offer a bit of solace to each other and soon things begin to get more than platonic. All of this to the obvious and expected frustration of her husband Shulem (Luzer Twersky).
Meira is a complex character and Yaron plays the role expertly. This Israeli actress is not unfamiliar to the culture and is convincing in her performance. You feel Meira's sadness and lack of passion for her current situation. You understand why she is drawn to Felix. Still she isn't flagrant about her actions. She it torn between two extremes and wrestles with the guilt. This is about the only depth in the script we see.
The scenes themselves are disjointed and forced. You have no trouble following the story but it is also easy to get bored with it. The conversations for the most part are thin and unresolved. The moments that come even close to dramatic are when a frustrated Shulem tries his best to get Meira to understand the fractures her actions are causing. But even these fizzle and misfire too often. There are character traits that are shown and then never given a fair chance to shine. The most powerful interaction is a conversation that Felix and Shulem have near the end of the film. As they sit across the table from each other you are fixed on every word. It is this emotion that needed to happen from the beginning on. By the time it does come it is too late.
One positive point worth mentioning is how the writers (Maxime Giroux,
Alexandre Laferrière) handle Shulem's character. It is easy for those of us outside the strict Orthodox community to applaud Meira for trying to live her life. We can look at her household as one of bondage and old fashioned regulations. But it is clear that Shulem loves Meira dearly. You see that he mainly wants her to obey in order not to lose respect and bring shame on the family. He is a good husband and wants what is best for his daughter and wife. Even if that seems so outlandish to you and I.
FELIX AND MEIRA is rated R for a scene of sexuality/nudity. I am surprised that this film has an R rating. If it was for the one brief moment of sexuality/nudity that seems a bit harsh. Other than the actual themes and story line being adult geared there is nothing content wise to warrant any sort of warning. In fact director Maxime Giroux could have easily left that one moment out and gotten a tame PG-13. Regardless the film itself is too sporadic and lukewarm to matter. It ends with a ho hum and a casualness that makes it forgettable. I give it 2 out of 5 passports. It should have been better.