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The Song of Names - A Movie Review

Song of Names

Like all of us, looking for something good to put in my head can be challenging. In these days of disruption, there is much to ignore. But what we put into our minds matters. Give this film a try.

Film:  Song of Names
Writer:  Norman Lebrecht
Director:  Francois Girard
Actors:  Tim Roth, Clive Owen, Catherine McCormick
Year:  2019
Rated:  PG13

3 Sentence Summary

  1. A young, Polish, Jewish, violin prodigy (Dovidl) is taken to London by his father to receive violin instruction and is adopted by a British family on the eve of WWII.
  2. The British family has a musical son, Martin, and the two boys become brothers.
  3. On the night of Dov’s London debut in 1951, he inexplicably disappears and Martin spends the rest of his adult life looking for him.

Short Review

Think back with me now, to a time in the past when they had these things called Movie Theatres. No kidding, you parked your car, you bought an overpriced ticket, you spent way too much on popcorn and candy, you stepped on black JuJu Beans getting into your seat, you sat in a big dark room with a bunch of strangers and you all shared a common experience called a movie. If you are like me, I have been doing this for most of my life. Until now!

Well I did have the good fortune of seeing this film at The Flicks in January. I was so moved as to be almost speechless. I wanted to go back and see it again so I would be able to recommend this film to you, but alas it only lasted a week, so I have been waiting all this time for it to come out somewhere else. Now you can find it at Redbox or Amazon Prime.

Sometimes I think there really can’t be more to say about the WWII era and the European theatre of war and the Holocaust, but alas I was wrong. Here is a captivating story based on a captivating history. For those like myself who are uninitiated in Jewish customs and practices, the saying of the Kaddish is central to the story. The Kaddish, according to Chabad.org, is a prayer that is said by a son for his deceased parents. Again according to Chabad.org, “It may be argued that saying Kaddish is the ultimate sign of love and respect that one can do for those who have passed away.” With this backdrop in mind, the title of the film takes its meaning.

The relationship which grows between the two boys is truly touching and excellently portrayed. What is a difficult situation for both, becomes a beautiful story of growing brotherhood. Their bond continues to strengthen until late adolescents and then becomes increasingly more complicated. The loyalty they had grown into for each other becomes unidirectional. As Dov is pulled out of and back into his faith, Martin‘s loyalty increases.

One of the most moving scenes in the film takes place in Treblinka, a former concentration camp. Martin’s search for Dov takes him to 1980’s Poland where Martin gets a great clue to Dov’s possible whereabouts. No spoilers here.

The dialogue is understated. The moments of thoughtful silence aid very much in moving the story forward. The emotions are palpable.

I could go on.

Let me summarize:

The story is compelling. The music is beautiful. The acting is excellent. The cinematography is powerful.

After seeing it for a second time, I’m still speechless. I recommend you experience it yourself.  Let me know what you think.

Cheers,

ks

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