|THE JEWISH CARDINAL (LE METIS DE DIEU) TV (director/writer: Ilan Duran Cohen; screenwriter: Chantal Derudder; cinematographer: Christophe Graillot; editor: Fabrice Roudaud; music: Nathaniel Mechaly; cast: Laurent Lucas (Jean-Marie Lustiger), Aurelien Recoing (John Paul II ), Audrey Dana (Fanny ), Pascal Greggory (Albert Decourtray), Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet (The Father Julian), Alex Skarbek (Father Kristof ), Henri Guybert (Charles Lustiger), Bruno Todeschini (Theo Klein); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Elan Duran Cohen/Joey Fare; Film Movement; 2013-France-in French with English subtitles)|
Lucas is brilliant as the titular
by Dennis Schwartz
Lucas) is the Jewish cardinal, a
Polish-Jewish immigrant to France, who in 1940,
during the German occupation of Orleans, at age 13,
converted to Catholicism against his parents'
wishes. Ilan Duran Cohen ("Lola
Zipper"/"Grand Son"/"The Joy of Singing") directs this
gripping true story about how Lustiger's Jewish
parents sent him and his sister Fanny (Audrey
Dana) to safety to live with a Catholic
woman in Orleans during the German occupation. His
mother was murdered at Auschwitz, while his father
(Henri Guybert) survived.
co-writes the touching screenplay with Chantal Derudder,
that tactfully handles the question of anti-Semitism in
Poland and what it means to have a
religious leader who is still nourished by his birth
religion. The beautifully told biopic is a compelling
watch, and Laurent Lucas is
brilliant as the titular hero.
story begins with a moped riding Parisian priest,
Lustiger (Laurent Lucas), in 1979
promoted to be the bishop of Orleans and a year later
Pope John Paul II
promotes him to be the Archbishop of Paris
and his chief advisor.
is told by his family, the chief rabbi of Paris and
many church officials that you can't be both a
Christian and a Jew, you must choose one or the other.
This comes after Lustiger tells the press that
he is still a Jew and also a Christian. But the
conflicted Lustiger refuses to disavow being Jewish,
while rising in the Catholic hierarchy.
conflicting moment arises when Lustiger cowardly fails
to keep his promise to his father (Henri
Guybert) to say Kaddish for him upon his death.
The most tense moment revolves around the
controversial installation of a convent by Carmelite
nuns on the Auschwitz grounds, which is opposed by
Jewish groups as an insult to their heavy loss during
the Holocaust. They consider the death camp to be a
Jewish cemetery and see red when a cross is placed
there. How Lustiger convinces the politically astute
Pope to intervene, provide some of the film's most
is made a cardinal in 1983, as he's determined to
improve the education for priests, to modernize the
Catholic faith to make it more appealing to the
younger generation, and by regular radio broadcasts to
communicate to the faithful.
chain-smoking Lustiger proves to be a flawed person,
who at times has trouble controlling his anger,
suffers from self-doubt and uncertainty if he has done
the right thing choosing loyalty to the church above
all else. The excellent portrayal by Lucas
lets us feel how vulnerable the brilliant church
leader is and how trying it is for him to be both a
Jew and a Christian, someone he says is like Christ.
The intelligent film has caught on at Jewish film festivals and should appeal not only to a religious audience but an open-minded one.
REVIEWED ON 5/15/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ