Friday, September 21, 2018

Movie with Abe: The Last Suit

The Last Suit
Directed by Pablo Solarz
Released September 21, 2018

What one person experiences during a horrific period of history can’t possibly be fully understood by future generations. Though they may hear countless stories of what was endured, a very potent and real way of keeping history alive and assuring that it is not repeated, it is not the same as actually going through it. Studying it from an academic perspective also can’t accomplish what living it does, and a deep need to fulfill some promise made decades earlier towards the end of someone’s life, regardless of impossible or, at the very best, unlikely logistics, can only be truly comprehended by the person who feels it and knows what they require in order to allow them to make some sort of peace with what has happened to them.

Abraham Bursztein (Miguel Ángel Solá) is an 88-year-old tailor living in Buenos Aires. As he prepares for the move to a retirement facility that has been orchestrated by his daughters and gets one last photo with his family, Abraham promptly decides that he must go to Poland, a place he has not been since he was deported and sent to a concentration camp during the Holocaust, to deliver the last suit he’ll make to the man who saved his life. The journey back to Europe and within its countries doesn’t prove to be easy, and both the language barrier and his determination not to set food in Germany along the way make it even more complicated.

This film opens with a scene of celebratory Jewish dancing from before everything in Abraham’s life was ripped away from him. Throughout his trip, which is laced with comedic moments, a score featuring distinctly Jewish music guides him along his way, a voyage that his family clearly doesn’t support and everyone he meets struggles to understand, asking him who it is he is trying to find and how he knows that he’ll be able to locate him so many years later. Abraham remains steadfast, despite his ailing health and travel mishaps, set on delivering one last item before he feels as if he has fulfilled what he is meant to in life.

Veteran Argentinean actor Solá, who is two decades younger than the character he plays, makes Abraham feel like a very lived-in character, not eager to adjust to the ways of the world and not at all prepared to accommodate others in how he should behave, even if modernity has gotten ahead of him. Ángela Molina and Martín Piroyansky help give Abraham context as a hostel operator and traveling musician, respectively, who initially find Abraham’s attitude off-putting but eventually warm to him. This film is an affirming tribute to a man who represents a generation of people who truly did survive, and an enjoyable and entertaining trip to boot.


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