TIFF 2018: Redemption (Geula)

Redemption (Geula). Courtesy of TIFF.

Redemption (Geula) follows a widowed Ultra-Orthodox rock singer as his daughter is fighting a very serious battle with cancer.

Menachem (Moshe Folkenflik), best known as Menny these days, is a former rock singer.  This was until he grew closer to Chasidic Judaism following some tragic times in his life.  These days, he’s working as a clerk in a grocery store just to make ends meet.  As if losing his wife wasn’t enough, tragedy has struck once again.  His seven-year-old daughter, Geula (Emily Granin), is suffering from cancer.  She’s being treated with chemotherapy but the prognosis is slim.

Because Menny needs money to pay for Geula’s new treatment, he turns to his old friends.  This is because Menny used to front the High Beams.  The other members include Avi (Sivan Shtiv), Dani (Shahar Even-tzur), and Guli (Yonatan Galila).  Cue the reference to The Blues Brothers because he’s on a mission from G-d.  “We’re putting the band back together” may be the more appropriate quote because this is what happens.  Menny decides to turn to this blast from the past as a way of paying for the medical costs.  Rather than the rock songs that they previously sung, the band plays Chasidic weddings.  It’s all for the betterment of his daughter’s health.

It was some fifteen years earlier when Menny left the rock scene behind him.  As the band comes back together to raise the money, Menny’s worst fears may be realized.  They may be playing weddings for now but he has grown so devout that he honestly fears a return to his past life.  However things may be, it’s through his daughter that he’s able to see the light–at least in some way.  Even if he doesn’t realize it, it’s entirely possible to be both a man of G-d and also a musician.  One must surely wonder if Matisyahu exists in the film’s universe.

This film has something to say about revisiting the past.  Can you do so while finding the balance with the present?  This is Menny’s biggest problem.  It’s entirely possible to do so but he needs to stop being stubborn and accept that it can happen.

As he’s dealing with his own internal battle, his friends have battles of their own.  Dani has been dating Namoi (Sedi Bar) for years.  She’s on the cusp of middle age but they aren’t married yet.  Nor do they have any children.  She’s not getting younger.  She sees everything as an opportunity to help Menny with paying for his daughter’s treatment.

Redemption works not only because of finding the balance between religion and art but because of a stellar performance from lead actor Moshe Folkenflik.

DIRECTORS:  Joseph Madmony & Boaz Yehonatan Yacov
SCREENWRITERS:  Joseph Madmony, Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, Erez Kavel
CAST:  Moshe Folkenflik, Emily Granin, Sivan Shtivi, Yonatan Galila, Shahar Even-tzur, Avigayil Atara Koevary, Sendi Bar, Ruthy Borenshtein, Hadas Ben Aroya

Redemption (Geula) held its North American premiere during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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