Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie with Abe: The Tenth Man

The Tenth Man
Directed by Daniel Burman
Released August 5, 2016

Coming home is always a momentous occasion, one guaranteed to produce a variety of reactions from different people. When someone lives abroad and returns to a place where most locals rarely leave the city let alone the state or country, it can be a jarring adjustment for all parties involved. In “The Tenth Man,” an Argentinean man living in the United States returns to Buenos Aires and finds that easing back into the life he knew so well as a child is not the simplest of tasks, and his outlook on what he has and what he wants must shift accordingly.

As he prepares to leave for Argentina, planning to introduce his fiancée to his family, Ariel (Alan Sabbagh) gets repeated calls from his father, Usher (Usher Barilka), asking him to bring Velcro sneakers with him so that he can give them to a kid who is in the hospital. As is the case with any big trip, the minutia of an errand such as that can be lost in a sea of things to do and loose ends to tie up, and though Ariel tries and looks, he ultimately cannot find the requested pair of shoes.

Arriving in Buenos Aires, Ariel is immediately drawn back into the charity foundation that his father created, making new use of things left behind by those who no longer need them. Try as he may, he is unable to actually meet Usher face to face, constantly getting phone calls about the shoes and errand after errand, yet an audience proves elusive. Eva (Julieta Zylberberg), a religious woman who barely speaks, becomes an unlikely friend, and it feels in a way as if Ariel never left, once again depended upon to live his father’s legacy.

This film’s title and its Spanish title both have an interesting and layered meaning rooted in Jewish practice. “El rey del Once,” which means “The King of Once,” matches the film’s poster, which shows Ariel driving around the district of Once with a crown on his head in celebration of the festive Jewish holiday of Purim. “The Tenth Man” refers to the number of people needed to make a minyan, or quorum of ten Jews, required to recite certain prayers. Both titles represent an intriguing but unfulfilled connection to Judaism as it permeates the culture in Buenos Aires, something started and unfinished. The film, which follows Ariel as he explores his hometown, is equally interesting when it begins but also has trouble finding its eventual direction, unsure of what specifically it wants to achieve.


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