The Vigil (2019)

The Vigil
Director: Keith Thomas
Writer: Keith Thomas
Cast: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, Lynn Cohen, Fred Melamed, Ronald Cohen
Seen on: 19.8.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) antisemitism

Yakov (Dave Davis) recently left the Jewish Orthodox community and is now trying to adapt to a life outside of it. It isn’t easy, especially since the community doesn’t necessarily want to let him go. When Reb Shulem (Menashe Lustig) asks Yakov to be shomer for the night – to sit vigil with the body of an old holocaust survivor – Yakov only accepts because it is a paid position. He relieves the deceased man’s wife Mrs Litvak (Lynn Cohen), who is showing signs of dementia, and takes over the watch. But things quickly take a dark turn and Yakov finds himself facing something evil.

The Vigil impresses with its setting and Davis’ impeccable performance in a film that is focused almost entirely on him. But it isn’t quite as effective at the horror as it would have needed to be to really sell me on it.

The film poster showing Yakov (Dave Davis) sitting in an arm chair with a brungin candle. A shadowy hand is reaching for him.
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Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

Vanya on 42nd Street
Director: Louis Malle
Writer: Andre Gregory
Based on: David Mamet‘s adaptation of Anton Chekhov‘s play Uncle Vanya
Cast: Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore, Larry Pine, Brooke Smith, Lynn Cohen, George Gaynes, Phoebe Brand, Jerry Mayer
Seen on: 13.1.2019

In a run-down theater on 42nd street, a group of actors come together to rehearse their take on Uncle Vanya. In the play, Vanya (Wallace Shawn) is the caretaker of Serybryakov’s (George Gaynes) estate and used to be his brother-in-law. Now Serybryakov returns to the estate in the countryside with his new, much younger wife Yelena (Julianne Moore), upsetting the balance that was achieved in his absence.

Vanya on 42nd Street is a very minimalist film. It feels a bit like an experiment of how far you can boil things down. Unfortunately, the film cut away too much – in the end, my interest was reduced away, too.

The film poster showing Yelena's (Julianne Moore) facen, and much smaller Vanya (Wallace Shawn) and Andre Gregory in front of the theater.
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The Station Agent (2003)

The Station Agent
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Richard Kind, John Slattery, Joe Lo Truglio, Lynn Cohen

Fin (Peter Dinklage) lives a very quiet life working in a model train shop. Until the shop owner and Fin’s only friend Henry (Paul Benjamin) dies and leaves Fin an abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere where Fin decides to move to. There Fin is found by Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who runs a foodtruck for his sick dad and then Fin is almost run over – twice – by Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a painter going through a rough time. All three are obviously lonely and struggle with human contact in very different ways. But somehow that seems just the perfect recipe.

The Station Agent was a really sweet, entertaining and pretty much wonderful film. There is nothing not to like about it.


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