Randy's Corner Deli Library

29 August 2008

My Mexican Shivah

Movie Review

My Mexican Shivah (2006)

My Mexican Shivah
Springall Pictures/Emerging Pictures

From top, Raquel Pankowsky, David Ostrosky and Emilio Savinni in "My Mexican Shivah."

August 29, 2008

Jewish Ritual and Mariachi Bands

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Published: August 29, 2008

Any comedy that can combine death, abortion, Jewish ritual and a mariachi band without curdling into complete lunacy deserves a modicum of respect. In the case of “My Mexican Shivah,” more would be pushing it.

What raises this uninhibited hybrid above C level is a director, Alejandro Springall, with a flair for the surreal and a cast that knows its way around a stereotype. Set in a Jewish section of Mexico City, the movie participates in the disastrous mourning of a pleasure-loving paterfamilias (Sergio Kleiner) who has keeled over at a party after one too many horahs. While multiple plotlines and myriad dysfunctions jostle for our attention — the obligatory shiksa mistress being only the least of them — a pair of wizened Jewish angels tally the deceased’s moral ledger with the creativity of an Enron accountant.

To the incorrigible Mr. Springall — who likes his jokes broad and his broads impudent — religion is best viewed as an all-purpose super glue for families severed by human weakness. Repurposing clichés as springboards to deeper issues (what price orthodoxy when it’s been embraced as an escape from justice?), he reminds us that ritual can ease reconciliation, and that sometimes even meat and dairy can get along.


Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Directed by Alejandro Springall; written (in Spanish, Hebrew and Yiddish, with English subtitles) by Jorge Goldenberg and Mr. Springall, based on a story by Ilán Stavans; director of photography, Celiana Cárdenas; edited by Madeleine Gavin; music by Jacobo Lieberman, performed by the Klezmatics; art director, Luisa Guala; produced by Mr. Springall and Maite Argüelles; released by Emerging Pictures. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Raquel Pankowsky (Esther), Blanca Guerra (Julia Palafox), Sergio Kleiner (Moishe), Martín Lasalle (Isaac), David Ostrosky (Ricardo), Emilio Savinni (Nicolás) and Sharon Zundel (Galia).

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