Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Ani Ohev Otach Rosa
Israel, 1972. Leisure Media, Noah Films. Screenplay by Moshe Mizrahi. Cinematography by Adam Greenberg. Produced by Menahem Golan. Music by Dov Seltzer. Production Design by Kuli Sander. Film Editing by Dov Hoenig. Academy Awards 1972. Cannes Film Festival 1972.
Rosa is a woman of extreme years who tells her great-grandson Nessim the tale of the boy after whom he was named, flashing back to late nineteenth-century Jerusalem, when she was a beautiful girl who was widowed in her early twenties. Her late husband’s younger brother Nessim has not even had his bar mitzvah but insists on fulfilling the requirements of the law as laid down in Deuteronomy, that a childless widow become the bride of her brother-in-law in order to continue her husband’s line. The two of them create quite a row in their community when Nessim goes to live with Rosa and she takes over care of him (in a motherly way), he continuing to insist that she become his wife, taking up his brother’s profession and reacting with jealousy when she is courted by other men. Poignant acting brings to life a tender love story that takes the age-old trope of coming of age and placing it at the centre of cultural tradition that by the late 1800s is already starting to be a bit unwieldy. It’s also a terrific comedy, as every bit of sweetness between the main characters is matched by scenes of hilarity from the shouting women who are constantly judging them. It’s a small film with a short running time, but its heart is large and the effect is delightful.