De­parted and yet not gone

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

Nora’s Will, com­edy-drama, not rated, in Span­ish with sub­ti­tles, Re­gal DeVargas, 3.5 chiles

IThe ta­ble is laid. The finest lace table­cloth is spread, the crys­tal sparkles, the sil­ver­ware and china gleam. Nora is ex­pect­ing the fam­ily for Passover. But Nora her­self will not be there.

Well, in a way she will be there. But she won’t be the life of the party. Once the stage is set, Nora swal­lows three bot­tles of pills, and by the time her body is dis­cov­ered by her ex-hus­band José (Fer­nando Lu­ján), Nora has achieved her life­long am­bi­tion: she is dead.

The tim­ing is com­pli­cated, and that is cer­tainly part of Nora’s plan. What with the Sab­bath and the Jewish hol­i­day, it will be five days be­fore the body can be buried. As the fam­ily gath­ers at her apart­ment — son Rubén (Ari Brick­man) and his wife and chil­dren rush­ing home from vacation, cousin Leah (Verónica Langer) ar­riv­ing from across town — Nora is laid out on her bed­room floor, tucked un­der a sheet and packed in dry ice.

The orig­i­nal Span­ish ti­tle of this low-key Mex­i­can gem of a movie was Cinco días sin Nora (Five Days With­out Nora), but, of course, they are days that are dom­i­nated by Nora’s pres­ence, as she clearly in­tended them to be. What ex­actly she hoped to ac­com­plish by her ex­tended hol­i­day on ice is not ex­actly clear, but what­ever it was, we can be grate­ful.

Flash­backs show us the young Nora (Ma­rina de Tavira) and José ( Juan Pablo Me­d­ina) early in their mar­riage, in the ’60s, when Nora had al­ready be­gun ex­plor­ing death’s timetable for an early de­par­ture. Nora’s de­pres­sion is es­tab­lished but never ex­am­ined by the movie. We only know that an im­pulse to­ward sui­cide has long been her com­pan­ion, that she has made many, many at­tempts over the years, and that it was this that broke up

a lov­ing mar­riage and drove José away.

Not very far away. He lives across the street in an apart­ment in full view of Nora’s win­dow, and the binoc­u­lars he finds on her dresser af­ter her death make it clear that, de­spite the two decades that have passed since he left her, the con­nec­tion has never been bro­ken.

José, how­ever, has em­phat­i­cally bro­ken his con­nec­tion with the Jewish faith. He has em­braced athe­ism with rel­ish. “All re­li­gions are the same — money and ma­nip­u­la­tion,” he tells Moisés (En­rique Arre­ola), the earnest rabbi-in-train­ing sent by Nora’s spir­i­tual ad­vi­sor, Rabbi Ja­cowitz who slips a cru­ci­fix around her mistress’s neck to hedge her bet with the Catholic God and touches up her makeup and hairdo in de­fi­ance of Jewish law.

Lu­ján an­chors the movie with a su­perb per­for­mance that com­bines crusti­ness, imp­ish hu­mor, and a deeply felt and al­ways-present sense of his love for the woman he mar­ried and left. The other char­ac­ters are equally good, es­pe­cially Peláez as the maid and Langer as Leah, the nearly blind cousin who ar­rives to make the gefilte fish for Passover. And there are two adorable lit­tle girls who keep things in a happy per­spec­tive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.