Semi-retired university professor David Winters and his wife and former student Melanie Winters née Lansing live on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec with their adult son ...
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Semi-retired university professor David Winters and his wife and former student Melanie Winters née Lansing live on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec with their adult son Benjamin Winters and Benjamin's son, Timothy Winters. Their life is not totally harmonious due to David's chronic infidelity and Melanie's emotional instability, a result in large part of her growing up which she refuses to speak of to Benjamin, who knows nothing of his mother's childhood directly from her. Melanie has been institutionalized many times in her life and is on medication to deal with her mental issues. Melanie's passion in life is to follow many cases of political oppression in the world, this passion again due to her past life. In September 1985, Melanie, through this work, reconnects with Jakob Bronski who she knew during World War II when she was only a teenager when they were both interred at Drancy, a transit station outside of Paris where the government, in cooperation with the Nazis... Written by
Interesting Canadian film that offers food for thought
It is fascinating how the horrors of World War II continue to spark off good, intelligent cinema around the world even after a gap of over half a century.
"Emotional Arithmetic" based on a novel by Matt Cohen (a Jew?), begins with an astounding remark "If you ask me if I believe in God, I am forced to answer does God believe in us?" The film is not about atheism. It reflects on the terrible scars left by war on orphans, on individuals who stand up and protest when wrong is done, on relationships forged in times of stress, pain and loss.
The charm of Paolo Barzman's film rests considerably in the hands of the capable actors-Susan Sarandon, Max von Sydow, Chistopher Plummer and Gabriel Bryne-all who have a maturity to carry off their parts in the film with grace. Ms Sarandon has matured into a formidable actress in recent films and this one showcases her talent.
Screened at the 12th International Film Festival of Kerala, India, the film forced this viewer to compare the contents of "Emotional Arithmetic" with those of a Swiss documentary "A Song for Argyris" also shown at the festival. Both films underlined the difficulties in forgetting tragic events in our lives and moving on. Both films indirectly discuss the bonding of survivors of tragic events.
As I watched the film I could not help but note the growing interest filmmakers in family bondsin "Emotional Arithmetic" it is merely a subplot balancing a "virtual" family that suffered during the Nazi rule with that of a real family comprising three generations living in idyllic conditions in Canada.
This film would offer considerable material to reflect on for the viewer, beyond the actual events shown on the screen.
Though there is no mention of a divine presence, the use of the vertical crane shots of the dining table and the car at interesting junctures in the film seem to suggest this debatable interpretation.
This Canadian film provides eye-candy locations that grab your attention from the opening shot. Mesmerizing crane shots are part of the film that provide an unusual charm to the high technical quality of the film, which becomes all the more apparent on the large cinemascope screen. So is the competent editing of the sequences that make the viewing process delectable. Like another Canadian film "Away from her" shown at the 11th edition of the festival, Canadian cinema has proved capable of dealing with serious subjects with the help of international actors, without resorting to the commercial gimmicks of mainstream American cinema, and employing high standards of craftsmanship in the true tradition of the famous Canadian filmmaker Claude Jutra!
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