Felix and Meira
Felix and Meira.jpg
Film poster
Directed byMaxime Giroux
Written byMaxime Giroux
Alexandre Laferrière
Produced bySylvain Corbeil
Nancy Grant
StarringMartin Dubreuil
Luzer Twersky
Hadas Yaron
CinematographySara Mishara
Edited byMathieu Bouchard-Malo
Music byOlivier Alary
Production
company
Metafilms
Distributed byFunfilm
Release date
  • 7 September 2014 (2014-09-07) (TIFF)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryCanada
LanguagesYiddish
English
French

Felix and Meira (French: Félix et Meira) is a 2014 Canadian drama film directed by Maxime Giroux, and starring Martin Dubreuil, Hadas Yaron, and Luzer Twersky. It is about an improbable affair between two Montreal residents - one a married woman from a devoutly Jewish family and community, and the other a single French Canadian man with his own family issues.

The film premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Award for Best Canadian Film. It received numerous other film festival awards, and was nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture.

Plot

In Mile End, Montreal, a Hasidic Jewish woman named Meira lives a repressed life, married to Shulem, who does not allow her to listen to secular music. They have a young daughter named Elishiva, but Meira confides in her friend that she does not want any more children, despite their religious duty. Word reaches Shulem, who berates Meira for shaming the small family. By chance, Meira meets Félix, a French Canadian man who has just lost his father Théodore, who at the end of his life no longer knew Félix was his son. Meira is mystified by the fact that Félix has no children, as he is single, a novel concept for her, since she comes from a culture where women have as many as 20 children. She avoids eye contact with him, and becomes enraged when, while they are playing Ping-Pong, Félix's sister Caroline unexpectedly arrives and sees her.

Félix and Meira go out dancing. Caroline also informs Félix that their mother had an affair, drawing parallel to Félix's interest in a married woman. Eventually, Shulem sees Félix and Meira walking on a street together, rushes up behind them, and begins slapping Félix.

Later, Shulem visits Félix in his apartment, informing him that if Meira and Félix re-unite, Meira will never be allowed to return to the Hasidic community. Shulem also asks Félix to keep Meira safe and cared for. Before leaving, Shulem notices a folded-up piece of paper, that Félix says was written by Théodore and never read. Shulem reads it, revealing Théodore apologized for bullying Félix to conform to the family, where he never felt comfortable. Félix and Meira take Elishiva to Venice.

Cast

Production

Screenwriter Alexandre Laferrière carried out much of the research for the film.
Screenwriter Alexandre Laferrière carried out much of the research for the film.

Felix and Meira was director Maxime Giroux's third full-length film, and he said that in writing and directing it, he learned more about his home of Montreal.[1] Additionally, he said he lived near Hasidic Jews on Mile End, and knew it was particularly challenging for women to leave the culture.[2] While meeting and discussing possible stories with co-writer Alexandre Laferrière at cafes, Giroux said: "We'd see these women and men walking by, and we just didn't know anything about them."[3] Laferrière did much of the research.[2]

Giroux assembled a cast, including actors who were once Hasidic Jews, but later gave up that faith and culture. He commented: "It's their story in a way, and I know at some point, it was difficult for them to shoot some of the scenes because it was really close to what they lived in their lives. It's tough for them to re-invent themselves and have a new life in our society."[1] It was challenging to cast Yiddish-speaking actors in Montreal, but in New York, several people pointed Giroux to Luzer Twersky, who they said would be interested. The producers recommended Hadas Yaron, but as she did not speak French or Yiddish, she had to study both languages, working on Yiddish with Twersky and on French in Israel.[4]

Release

Felix and Meira premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[1][5] It was also in competition at the San Sebastián International Film Festival,[6] and at the Torino Film Festival.[7] In January 2015, it screened at the New York Jewish Film Festival.[3]

The film had a wider release in Quebec theatres on 30 January 2015, distributed by FunFilm,[8] and had a limited release in the United States on 17 April 2015.[9] It was released on DVD on 12 May 2015.[8] By September 2015, the film had played in over 50 festivals and 15 countries.[10]

Reception

Critical reception

The film received positive reviews, with a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 44 reviews.[11] It was included in the list of "Canada's Top Ten" feature films of 2014, selected by a panel of film-makers and industry professionals organized by TIFF.[12][13] Marc-André Lussier [fr] wrote in La Presse that the film was not sensational, but subtle, sensitive, and highly interesting.[8] Brendan Kelly, writing for The Montreal Gazette, gave the film four stars, praising it as "so powerful precisely because it's so under-stated".[14]

Outside Canada, Joe McGovern of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B.[9] Jeannette Catsoulis, writing for The New York Times, called it "a tenderly observed love story".[15] Ty Burr wrote in The Boston Globe that the film avoided melodrama about cultural conflicts to focus on its characters, and criticized the Motion Picture Association of America for giving the film an R rating, though there is a scene where Meira watches a couple have sex.[16] Variety's Peter Debruge said it was easy to root for Meira's liberation, but he was not satisfied with the ending.[6] Conversely, Jordan Hoffman, of The New York Daily News, felt it lacked chemistry.[17]

Accolades

The film was selected as the Canadian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[1][18] It was a rare Canadian submission for featuring a substantial amount of Yiddish as well as French.[19]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Canadian Screen Awards 13 March 2016 Best Motion Picture Sylvain Corbeil and Nancy Grant Nominated [20]
Best Direction Maxime Giroux Nominated
Best Actress Hadas Yaron Nominated
Best Art Direction / Production Design Louisa Schabas Nominated
Best Cinematography Sara Mishara Nominated
Festival du nouveau cinéma 2014 Louve d'Or Felix and Meira Won [3]
Haifa International Film Festival 2014 Tobias Szpancer Award for Best Film Maxime Giroux Won [21][22]
Quebec Cinema Awards 20 March 2016 Best Film Sylvain Corbeil and Nancy Grant Nominated [23][24]
Best Director Maxime Giroux Nominated
Best Screenplay Alexandre Laferrière and Maxime Giroux Won
Best Actress Hadas Yaron Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Luzer Twersky Nominated
Torino Film Festival 2014 Best Actress Hadas Yaron Won [7]
Best Actor Luzer Twersky Won
Toronto International Film Festival 4–14 September 2014 Best Canadian Film Maxime Giroux Won [25]
Whistler Film Festival 2014 Borsos Award of Best Canadian Feature Won [26]
Best Director of a Borsos Film Won [27]
Best Screenplay of a Borsos Film Maxime Giroux and Alexandre Laferrière Won
Best Actor in Borsos Film Hadas Yaron Won [28]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Félix et Meira tapped as Canada's Oscar foreign-language film contender". CBC News. 25 September 2015. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b Lévesque, François (8 February 2014). "Les amants du Mile End". Le Devoir. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Kelly, Brendan (29 January 2015). "Félix et Meira explores love across the cultural divide". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  4. ^ Vlessing, Etan (1 December 2015). "Foreign Oscars: 'Felix & Meira' Director on Courting Controversy With Hasidic Jew Romancer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  5. ^ "TIFF Adds 'Clouds of Sils Maria' and 'Two Days, One Night', Reveals 5 More Line-Ups". Indiewire. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b Debruge, Peter (26 September 2014). "Film Review: 'Felix and Meira'". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ a b Anderson, Ariston (29 November 2014). "'Eat Your Bones' Wins Top Prize in Torino". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Lussier, Marc-André (29 January 2015). "Félix et Meira: attirance progressive. Et mutuelle". La Presse. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b McGovern, Joe (23 April 2015). "'Felix & Meira': EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ Dunlevy, T'cha (26 September 2015). "Canada picks Maxime Giroux's Félix et Meira as foreign-language Oscar contender". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Felix & Meira (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. ^ "TIFF Tips Its Toque to the Best in Canadian Film-Making: Cronenberg, Dolan, and Gunnarson Among Directors Recognized" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  13. ^ Linda Barnard (1 December 2014). "TIFF's Top Ten Film Festival: Spotlight on Canadian film". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  14. ^ Kelly, Brendan (29 January 2015). "Aching need to break free gives Félix et Meira its power". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  15. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette. "Review: 'Felix and Meira,' a Portrait of a Tempted Hasidic Wife". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  16. ^ Burr, Ty (28 May 2015). "'Felix and Meira' is a hushed affair". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  17. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (15 April 2015). "'Felix and Meira' review: Encounter between the secular and the devout lacks sizzle". The New York Daily News. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  18. ^ Vlessing, Etan (25 September 2015). "Oscars: Canada Submits 'Felix and Meira' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  19. ^ Wong, Jessica (23 September 2016). "Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World to be Canada's Oscar foreign-language film submission". CBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  20. ^ Wong, Jessica (19 January 2016). "Canadian Screen Awards 2016 nominations led by Room, Schitt's Creek, Orphan Black". CBC News. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Haifa 31st International Film Festival". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  22. ^ Hannah Brown (19 October 2014). "'Next to Her' wins top prize at Haifa film festival". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  23. ^ "La Passion d'Augustine and Corbo lead the Jutra film nominations". The Montreal Gazette. 26 January 2016. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  24. ^ Staff (21 March 2016). "La passion d'augustine wins big at Le gala du cinema Quebecois". Playback. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  25. ^ Pond, Steve (14 September 2014). "'The Imitation Game' Wins Toronto Audience Award". The Wrap.
  26. ^ "WFF Winners". Whistler Film Festival. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  27. ^ Etan Vlessing (7 December 2014). "Whistler: 'Felix and Meira' Makes Clean Sweep of Borsos Competition". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  28. ^ Katherine Brodsky (8 December 2014). "Whistler Fest Names 'Felix and Meira' Big Winner". Variety. Retrieved 2 June 2015.