One man’s life explored with humor and sorrow
Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88- year- old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, the little girl curtly replies that she doesn’t like having her photo taken. Finally, the two get down to brass tacks: she wants $1,000 for an iPhone 6.
What ensues is a witty dialogue between youth and old age, where the cunning and experience of age seems to have won out, with Abraham having talked the girl down to $800. But the girl has the last laugh: “The phone only cost $800, so now I have an extra $200,” she boasts. Abraham smiles, pinches her cheeks and declares, “You are my favorite.”
Deftly portrayed by
‘The Last Suit’
What: “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), part of the Miami Film Festival When: Through March 29 Where: Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami When: Through March 29 Where: AMC Aventura, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura; Movies of Delray, 7421 W. Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, Info: thelastsuit.com; towertheater.com; amctheatres.com Miguel Ángel Solá, this early scene reveals important emotional information about Abraham: for him, love is a transaction in which one is either on the winning or losing side. Written and directed by Pablo Solarz, we witness Abraham, a Holocaust survivor in deteriorating health as he travels from Argentina to Spain, through Germany, and ultimately to his birthplace in Poland in an attempt to reconcile himself with the past. But more importantly to deliver a suit to perhaps the last person who showed him uncondi- tional love, Piotrek, his childhood friend ( Jan Mayzel), who saved his life at the end of the war.
“The Last Suit,” in Spanish, German, and Yiddish with English subtitles, is a modern-day trip into the underworld of the past. Solarz skillfully weaves in flashbacks from Abraham’s youth and his painful experiences during the war, which he pairs this with the present-day petulant and prideful old man who on the surface is easy to dislike.
The gravity of the subject matter is tempered by Abraham’s wry humor and in Spain he meets his match with Maria, the proprietor of the hotel where he’s staying. Brilliantly played by Ángela Molina, she is Abraham’s truth teller. She can lob barbs with the best of them and she won’t be charmed or swindled, so the two quickly cut through the ice and find true warmth and friendship.
“Suit” traverses landscapes, centuries, and languages only to remind us that while we all grow old, our stories never do, nor does our desire to heal our deepest wounds.