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Jane Enkin

Jane Enkin Reviews Excellent Film 'All about the Levkoviches'- Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival 2024 June 7 5:30

by Jane Enkin May 27,2024

In this lovely, gentle film, restrained but deep emotions of grief, anger and love are explored. 


As Tamas, a boxing coach,  Zoltan Bezeredi is very fit, but in some ways a craggy-faced old man. He is shown with many teen students, but his favourite is one with real potential for success, Feri, played sensitively by the beautiful actor Varadi Roland.


We learn that Tamas is estranged from his son, Ivan, who made aliyah and then became Orthodox. Tamas’ wife, Zsuzsa, (played as cozy yet determined by Agnes Mahr),  keeps up a warm relationship through facetime with her young grandson, who is excited that his grandmother is planning a trip to Israel. 


When Zsuzsa dies suddenly, the loss is made poignant by the affectionate, playful relationship she and Tamas shared. Tamas deals with his grief in his own way, as he carries on training the ever more supportive Feri. But Ivan, (the smouldering Tamas Szabo Kimmel), wants to come to Hungary for an Orthodox funeral and shiva in his parents’ house. Tamas agrees so long as Ivan brings his little grandson, Ariel, along. 


Slowly, the shy Ariel builds a relationship with his grandfather Tamas while his father Ivan tries to get along without opening old wounds. Ariel’s deepest relationship, though, is with the spirit of his grandmother, who he is convinced lingers in the house. Leo Gagel makes Ariel intense and compelling. The young actor’s facility in both Hebrew and Hungarian are important to the plot – the father and son speak in Hebrew, leaving the grandfather at sea.


Director Adam Breier (who will be in attendance for a Q and A) brings out subtle performances. Ivan grits his teeth as he tries to live for a week with his father. Tamas carries out his daily life stoically while a shiva minyan marches in and out of his house. The people around them try to offer support in any way they can, without much feedback from the Levkoviches. 


The film provides a window into the present-day lives of Jews in Hungary, as well as the balancing act for a baal tshuvah (newly Orthodox) man who wants to maintain ties with his secular family. Naive questions from Ariel bring out ideas about belief and priorities. While Tamas’ grieving is idiosyncratic, the local Orthodox community supports Ivan with traditional shiva practices, sensitively explored. There are sweet moments of humour among deeply emotional family dynamics. Wonderful performances and powerful interactions are the strengths of this excellent film.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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