SLIFF 2010 Review: NORA’S WILL
NORA’S WILL is a comedy about a Jewish woman in Mexico who kills herself on the eve of Passover. The premise may not sound exactly side-splitting, but the film is a hugely enjoyable, low-key farce about family ties, suicide, recipes, rabbis, and Jewish burial traditions. It’s an impressive feature debut for director-writer Mariana Chenillo who fills the movie with warmth and eccentric characters.
Nora, a 50ish divorcee, finally successful after her 14th suicide attempt, had invited a large group over for Passover dinner. She’d set the dinner table and left her refrigerator full of food with Post-it notes everywhere with instructions. Traditional Jewish law dictates a person be buried within 24 hours with the exception being Passover, a holiday that would require her body to be kept on dry ice for five days. This leads to complications for her ex-husband (Fernando Lujan) who spends the balance of the film being confronted by a host of colorful characters who parade through Nora’s home in the days following her death including an Orthodox rabbi and his young and inexperienced assistant, Nora’s devoted Catholic maid who slips a crucifix onto Nora’s body, a confused blind cousin, and finally, Nora’s son, with his wife and two children, whose experience of seeing their grandmother’s corpse elicits much of the film’s darker humor. NORA’S WILL is a small, intimate film that takes place in one setting with a script that is sharp and performances outstanding. Chenillo has produced a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and tragedy and I look forward to her future films. Recommended.
NORA’S WILL will play during the 19th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival on Sunday, November 14th at 4:00 pm and Monday, November 15th at 2:15 pm at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema.