Opening 1 Dec 2005
This Jewish comedy about the Dalinsky family in Barcelona begins with 27-year-old Leni coming home for a holiday. She introduces her finance Rafi to her mother Gloria, her older sister Tania, and Tania’s little daughter Paula, as well as to her younger brother David and her grandfather Dudu. The head of the household, Ernesto, is still at work. Problems begin when they learn that Rafi is Palestinian. He is also helpful, and, when trying to defrost the soup, he lets it fall from the kitchen window down many stories to the street below where it strikes a pedestrian. Tired of waiting and suspecting an infidelity, Gloria, Leni, Tania and Rafi set out to find Ernesto at work. Paula calls from home to announce that Dudu is dead. On and on it goes from one gag to the next on topics of narcissism, bratty children, a house pet, prostitutes, terrorists, Palestinian-Israeli relationships, orthodox Judaism, intolerance and Jewish mothers.
Written and directed by Teresa Pelegri and Dominic Harari, Seres Queridos (the original Spanish title) is a cross between Alles auf Zucker (by Daniel Levy which won the 2005 Lola – German Oscar – for best film) and that old German TV series, The KlimBim family. If neither of those rings a bell, think: situation comedy slapstick. It is generally humorous enough, although some jokes wear thin, e.g., brother David monitoring politically correct Jewish behavior during the Sabbath (which he drops like a hot potato in favor of Confucianism when a pretty Asian girl enters his life). Some jokes can be anticipated, and I’m not giving anything away when I say that Ernesto, of course, is the victim struck down by the frozen soup or that, yes, grandpa’s gun does go off. The soundtrack by Charlie Mole is surprisingly subtle with Spanish and Israeli music at appropriate times. The prize for “New Trick in a Film” goes to Leni, who tucks her toothbrush under her naked left breast until she is ready to brush her teeth. In the end, to quote the Beatles, “love is all there is,” and only one question goes unanswered: Where is the baby duck? This film won Audience Choice at the 2004 Locarno film festival. (Becky Tan)