An ex-musician who has moved on from the carefree days of sex, drugs and rock and roll confronts a personal mid-life crisis that drives them to 'get the band back together' – a formula we have seen in many films before. But never has it been presented with such a dark and deeply moralistic tone, as is the case with Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yaakov's Redemption.
The film tells the story of Menachem (Moshe Folkenflik), a widow and loving father, who is dealt a grave card when his six year old daughter (Emily Granin) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The treatment she needs to give her a new chance of life is something the poorly paid supermarket assistant cannot afford, and so Menachem and his old bandmates perform weddings to finance the expensive treatments.
Folkenflik is the anchor of this incredible story. He performs an impressive balancing act of strength and subtlety with every glance, grimace and grin and truly allows the audience into the mind of his character's tortured and conflicted soul. It's a shame to think he won't have the chance to compete against many less-deserving Hollywood actors come the all-coveted awards season.
The rest of the supporting cast also contribute significant value, with Granin's performance being particularly stunning considering the physical/emotional brevity she needs to carry at her age.
Issues with this film may arise for audiences when it comes to witnessing the moral decisions made by Menachem, due to his religious beliefs. A scene that will be most divisive is when Menachem's religious beliefs are placed before the chance to further his daughter's chances of survival. But despite any moralistic issues that the lead character may present, at its core, this is a story about a father, who loves his daughter, a story element that will be relatable for many.
A special touch to this film is the musical interludes that show Menachem's band playing at various weddings. These entertaining interludes are a welcome and much-needed break considering the type of narrative being presented.
Redemption is an incredibly impressive contribution by the Israeli film industry and is playing at Lido Cinemas, Classic Cinemas and Cameo Cinemas apart of the Jewish International Film Festival from 23rd October – 21st November.
Directed by: Joseph Madmony, Boaz Yehonatan Yaakov