Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nora's Will (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Nora's Will

A table is being set for Passover with the precision of a chess game. Wine is poured. Drawers are opened and closed. The camera pulls back: A table is shown covered with china so that it resembles an ivory coffin. It is a surreal and beautiful sight.

This mood of haunted poignancy is expressed throughout "Nora's Will" by director Mariana Chenillo.
In the film,  Nora's ex-husband Jose ( Fernando Luj├ín) is gruff and cynical. He first gets boxes and boxes of meat sent to him instead of Nora. Going over to the apartment, He discovers her body which looks like a porcelain doll. She committed suicide. But alas, there is coffee brewing. There are brightly colored notes pasted everywhere like sprinkles on a cupcake. And there are Tupperware containers with detailed instructions, which are seen as nurturing crypts from a cypher of a woman who loved food and cooking. Tasty memorials that are only bitter to a sour ex-husband. Even with her passing, Nora exerts domination.

Jose sets to work. Even though Nora was Jewish, Jose buys her a Christian casket. Jose's one-upmanship? The Rabbi is in an uproar. The room must be refrigerated to near freezing because the deceased  it turns out, cannot be buried until two days after Passover. We see Jose shivering in the cold sterile apartment. Nora's revenge! Jose moves the coffin like a cumbersome cuckoo clock. And the huge wooden cross mocks him.
Gradually we see flashbacks of marital history: a couple warm and sensual, taken in by love. Euphoric bliss.
Now in the present, Jose sleeps with old pictures. He wakes, obsessed with Nora's fidelity. He wants her for himself. He loves her still.

Only the children in the movie can make a joke of death. They play freely in Nora's coffin. The rest of the adults, aside from Jose, are locked in a melancholy circus of ritual and formality, symbolized by the austere apartment. Jose silently yearns to break free with irreverent thought. Love and joyful play is the core of life, without it we are lost to our own routines with so many wedged apartments to fill.

"Nora's Will" despite its subject, has a disarming light charm with pointed humor and wit. In the comic style of "Like Water for Chocolate," this film highlights the conflicts of dominance, spontaneity and religious ritual.

No comments: