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Movie Review: My Mexican Shivah

Alternate Title: Se Habla Yiddishe

Story: Go figure that religious traditions do not need much in the way of transaltion.My Mexican Shivah, directed by Alejandro Springall is easily understood by Jews across the globe. However, fear not, you do not have to be Mexican or Jewish to understand and enjoy this film. It is about family, reconciliation and redemption. What's not to like? It was written by Jorge Goldenberg and Springall, based on a story by Ilán Stavans.

Grandpa Moishe, a pleasure seeking senior, dies suddenly while celebrating with friends. The balance of the film records the family gathering and dysfunction, the stereotypes, the sadness and the joy of a family enduring the seven day ritual after the burial of a loved one called, Shivah. For non-Jews, think of it as a Wake, without the body.

The best part for me were the angels, who act as the accountants for Moishe's soul. They are invisible, except to us, as they tally Moishe's life. It is said that when a Jew is born, he or she gets the company of these two angels. One is the angel of light and the other is the angel of darkness.

Is this film for everyone? Probably not. But if you like to see a slice of life that encompasses all of the kvetching, kvelling, naches with familiar mishpocha get on over to a theater near you. Or else someone might think you are meshuga! So go!

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh6Erq0wR38

Acting: Raquel Pankowsky as Esther was my favorite. She cracked me up. Sergio Kleiner as Grandpa Moishe did not have much to say - since he died in the opening credits. The entire cast was on target. including: Martín Lasalle as Isaac, David Ostrosky as Ricardo, Emilio Savinni as Nicolás and Sharon Zundel as Galia.

Trivia: There have been Jews in Mexico since Cortes conquered the Aztecs. Jews fled to Mexico to avoid the Inquisition in Spain and the horrors of WWII. There are about 50,000 Jews in Mexico today. Most of Mexico's Jews live in Mexico City. The fabulous Mexican painter and muralist, Diego Rivera was raised as a Catholic, but was aware of his Jewish heritage. As an adult, Rivera was a self-proclaimed atheist. Rivera was a Converso, a member of an ethnic group comprised of Jews whose ancestors had been forced to convert to Catholicism

Predilection: My family fled the Russian cossacks at the end of the 19th century.

Critters: None

Food: Lots of food is prepared and eaten during Shivah.

Sex Spectrum: Even though sex is verboten during Shivah there was a bit of shtupping going on.

Soundtrack: Appropriate music by Jacobo Lieberman, performed by the Klezmatics;

Opening Titles: The death and burial preparation of Moishe is interspersed with the opening credits.

Visual Art: Wonderful detail in the Jewish homes in these Mexico City families.

Theater Audience: About 25 other people whose personal family Diaspora history would have been interesting to learn about.

Weather: Lovely in Mexico City.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit in the middle.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would ne fine.

Length: Under two hours.