Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nora's Will (opens in Cleveland March 18th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[NORA'S WILL opens in Cleveland Friday March 18th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]
Review by Bob Ignizio

As far as suicides go, Nora's is at least fairly tidy. Before taking 3 bottles of pills and peacefully drifting off to oblivion, she makes sure to leave detailed instructions for friends and family. She even leaves a menu for the housekeeper to prepare for Passover, and a fresh pot of coffee for whoever finds her body. She has to know that person will be her ex husband Jose' (Fernando Luján), whose apartment is directly across the street from Nora's.

Nora has attempted to kill herself 14 times previously, so I guess you could say this time practice makes perfect. The only seeming snag is the burial. With passover about to begin and Nora's son Ruben (Ari Brickman) yet to arrive home, it looks like it will be at least 4 days before her body can be interred. And then there's the issue of her having committed suicide, which generally relegates the deceased to a special section of any respectable Jewish cemetery reserved for criminals and other undesirables.

The film uses this premise as the unlikely foundation for a humane and, at times, quite funny film. Although far from reverent, the humor in NORA'S WILL (Cinco días sin Nora) is rarely morbid, despite much of it centering on the efforts to find a final resting place for the title character. The rest of the humor comes from Jose's efforts to undermine his exe's dying wishes. He even goes so far as to offer a sausage, ham and bacon pizza to the rabbi she wanted to give her eulogy.

Jose' has lost his own faith, at one point flat-out telling the rabbi's assistant that, “God doesn't exist.” It's to the movie's credit that it doesn't center on whether Jose' returns to god or not. Any path to forgiveness and acceptance he might find will have to be personal rather than spiritual. That's probably why in the end, the film manages to be uplifting without being saccharine. It's a little film, but for what it sets out to do, it's just about perfect. 4 out of 4 stars.

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