Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Let My People Go!

Stylized and sweet comedy plays Jewish culture and gay nightlife against each other in a world where nobody gets offended.

Jan 9, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370068-Let_People_Go_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A fairy-tale romance whose title acknowledges both a saturation in and longing to be free of Jewish cultural baggage, Mikael Buch's Let My People Go! cross-breeds cultures that are rarely paired onscreen. The presence of Almodóvar collaborator Carmen Maura may tip moviegoers off to the pop-inflected, comic semi-scandals in store.

Employing an archly retro visual scheme that recalls the self-conscious cinematic fetishes of some New Queer Cinema, the film opens on a gay fantasia of small-town domesticity in Finland. Living with his adorable blond lover Teemu (Jarkko Niemi) in a lakeside cabin, French immigrant Ruben (Nicolas Maury) works as the friendly mailman in a neighborhood whose colorful houses look like Scandinavian Skittles.

After a misunderstanding involving a parcel full of euros, though, Teemu casts his lover out of Eden, sending Ruben back to Paris where a family dry-cleaning business, melodramatic subplots and the descendants of Abraham await. Maura plays the matriarch, welcoming Ruben back to the fold while subtly urging him finally to get his act together.

Ruben is comically ill-at-ease here, but, with his girlish voice, thin skin and catastrophic motor skills (he nearly kills a young nephew on the playground), where wouldn't he be? As Ruben flounders, Buch milks laughs from the friction between his parents' devout Judaism and the waywardness of their children. From a gay bar's "Coming Out of Egypt" party to an imagined TV ad for "Jew-You Spray," these gags enliven the movie's more mundane conflicts, which include a sister on the verge of divorce and the 20-year affair Dad has been hiding.

Buch, who penned the script with Christophe Honoré, keeps cutting back to Finland, where poor Teemu is heartbroken. The time given to these scenes might not have been enough to keep the romance plot afloat without the winning performance of Niemi. The actor makes Teemu much more sympathetic than Ruben—more virtuous, more comfortable with himself and the world—so that in rooting for his continued presence onscreen, we're forced to care if the two reunite.

Buch has some fun with that question, working both of the lovers into bed with other characters and, in a very funny if implausible moment, manages to force a gruff old police captain to play middleman between them. For one brief moment in this light, briskly paced rom-com, someone onscreen is more uncomfortable than Ruben.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Let My People Go!

Stylized and sweet comedy plays Jewish culture and gay nightlife against each other in a world where nobody gets offended.

Jan 9, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370068-Let_People_Go_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A fairy-tale romance whose title acknowledges both a saturation in and longing to be free of Jewish cultural baggage, Mikael Buch's Let My People Go! cross-breeds cultures that are rarely paired onscreen. The presence of Almodóvar collaborator Carmen Maura may tip moviegoers off to the pop-inflected, comic semi-scandals in store.

Employing an archly retro visual scheme that recalls the self-conscious cinematic fetishes of some New Queer Cinema, the film opens on a gay fantasia of small-town domesticity in Finland. Living with his adorable blond lover Teemu (Jarkko Niemi) in a lakeside cabin, French immigrant Ruben (Nicolas Maury) works as the friendly mailman in a neighborhood whose colorful houses look like Scandinavian Skittles.

After a misunderstanding involving a parcel full of euros, though, Teemu casts his lover out of Eden, sending Ruben back to Paris where a family dry-cleaning business, melodramatic subplots and the descendants of Abraham await. Maura plays the matriarch, welcoming Ruben back to the fold while subtly urging him finally to get his act together.

Ruben is comically ill-at-ease here, but, with his girlish voice, thin skin and catastrophic motor skills (he nearly kills a young nephew on the playground), where wouldn't he be? As Ruben flounders, Buch milks laughs from the friction between his parents' devout Judaism and the waywardness of their children. From a gay bar's "Coming Out of Egypt" party to an imagined TV ad for "Jew-You Spray," these gags enliven the movie's more mundane conflicts, which include a sister on the verge of divorce and the 20-year affair Dad has been hiding.

Buch, who penned the script with Christophe Honoré, keeps cutting back to Finland, where poor Teemu is heartbroken. The time given to these scenes might not have been enough to keep the romance plot afloat without the winning performance of Niemi. The actor makes Teemu much more sympathetic than Ruben—more virtuous, more comfortable with himself and the world—so that in rooting for his continued presence onscreen, we're forced to care if the two reunite.

Buch has some fun with that question, working both of the lovers into bed with other characters and, in a very funny if implausible moment, manages to force a gruff old police captain to play middleman between them. For one brief moment in this light, briskly paced rom-com, someone onscreen is more uncomfortable than Ruben.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Food Chains
Film Review: Food Chains

Vitally important, infuriating exposé of the world of injustice behind the food you consume. More »

Monk with a Camera
Film Review: Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland

Enthralling and uplifting documentary about a man of the world turned monk, but one who effects real, inspiring change. More »

The Circle
Film Review: The Circle

Very strong, historically intriguing and important gay document is marred by intrusive real-life interview footage, which seriously breaks up the dramatic momentum. More »

babadook
Film Review: The Babadook

An intense, terrifying indie horror film with more on its mind than scaring its audience. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Hunger Games - Mockingjay Pt 1
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Darker, less action-packed first half of the final installment of the popular franchise moves from arenas to rubble aplenty as Jennifer Lawrence’s super-heroine is called upon to serve her beleaguered and much-destroyed nation as propaganda instrument and leader. Fans of the books and previous two films get a less flashy palette here, but the engaging characters and strong story return to stir interest for the scheduled November 2015 finale. More »

Foxcatcher review
Film Review: Foxcatcher

Character is destiny in this masterfully controlled true-crime sports drama that will likely catapult Steve Carell into the Oscar race. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here