When we lose someone whom we love, the grieving process is a personal one. Some people retreat into themselves and the past. Others carry on as if their loved one is still around.
In the new movie, To Dust, Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) is a Hasidic Cantor living in upstate New York who has just lost in his wife. Secretly obsessing that his wife’s soul is tormented as her body decays, he seeks to calm his obsession via science. This leads him to Albert (Matthew Broderick), a science Professor who teaches at the local community college. Initially, Albert is hesitant to help Shmuel. But then he something changes and Albert is all in with Shmuel’s quest. Will Shmuel find out the answers he is seeking and how will Albert help in his cause?
Director and c0-screenwriter Shawn Snyder was inspired to write the film after the death of his mother from cancer. While it falls into the buddy comedy genre, the film is not the standard buddy comedy. The comedy is very dry and is launched by Shmuel’s grief and his intense preoccupation of finding the answers to his questions. As a person of the Jewish faith, I appreciated that the creative team treated the Hasidic characters with respect instead of being presented to the audience as 2-D caricatures. If I had to name my favorite aspect of the film, it would be that Shmuel’s grief is universal.
My only reservation about this film is that not only is it a little long, but it’s not for everyone. While I appreciate dry comedy, it was a little too dry for my taste.
Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.
To Dust is presently in theaters.