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PRICE ABOVE RUBIES

SYNOPSIS:
Sonia (Renée Zellweger) has arrived at the point her parents had planned for her - she’s married to Mendel (Glenn Fitzgerald), a Jewish scholar and reputed holy man, has had a son, and a place has been found for them in the Orthodox Jewish community of Boro Park. However, Sonia feels trapped, not the least because Mendel refuses to allow her to work, even though she has a fine eye for jewellery; her father’s craft. When Mendel’s lecherous brother Sender (Christopher Eccleston) offers her a job as a buyer in his cash-in-hand jewellery business, Sonia accepts. She meets a young Puerto Rican, Ramon (Allen Payne) and begins to question whether she is really meant for the straight-laced, but hypocritical world in which she has found herself.

"Boaz Yakin’s follow-up to the remarkable Fresh continues many of the themes explored in that film. Like Fresh (the character), Sonia is a person trapped in a world largely not of her own making and whose most fervent desire is to get out. But unlike Fresh (the film), A Price Above Rubies never comes to a completely satisfying resolution. Part of this may have to do with the prominence given to the intricacies of the Orthodox Jewish faith in the film. While these intricacies are fascinating, Yakin has his characters speak in a genuine Jewish patois, mostly without translation; and it’s difficult at times for the viewer to follow precisely what is happening. I also found some of the time frames inconsistent with what was happening on screen. Renée Zellweger is a world away from her role in Jerry Maguire as the strong-willed Sonia; and she pulls off the role with assurance. Glenn Fitzgerald is a revelation as Mendel, a pious man whose devotion to understanding his faith conflicts strikingly with his failure to understand his wife. Christopher Eccleston is also fine in the subsidiary role of Sender; and he manages a New York Jewish accent with ease. A Price Above Rubies is deliberately paced and well-crafted. Yakin builds the drama gradually and largely without hyperbole. Although it doesn’t fully come off, it’s nonetheless an intriguing look at one woman’s struggle to be free."
David Edwards

"It's been a couple of years since Boaz Yakin's remarkable first film, Fresh, and I wouldn't have guessed this was the work of the same director, though its story is really quite similar. Both movies focus on a deceptively vulnerable misfit imprisoned in a ghetto that's shown (whatever problems this raises) as simultaneously an ethnic community, a physical space and a moral ambience. Where Fresh outwardly belonged to the genre of Boyz In The Hood, this follow-up is crowded with Jewish rituals and men in yarmulkes; in both cases, however, the insistent local color is the pretext for a ruthlessly abstract game-plan, with the protagonist making carefully plotted moves, crossing boundaries, and playing enemies off against each other. In Fresh, these cagey strategies are compared to a game of chess. Here, similarly, jewels, sacred words and even the heroine's rarely seen child are largely reduced to contestable pieces on a board. But where the youthful hero of Fresh was impressively terse and deadpan, A Price Above Rubies is often embarrassed by its arty, explicit dialogue – and it's hard to take seriously any film so dependent on that sweet little rabbit Renée Zellweger. One scene has the adorable Renée questioning God's role in the Holocaust, outraging a council of elders; soon after, we're asked on faith to accept the work of an amateur jewellery maker as 'great art.' A Price Above Rubies may be something less than that, but Yakin is still an original talent to watch."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2
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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

PRICE ABOVE RUBIES (MA15+)
(US)

CAST: Renée Zellweger, Christopher Eccleston, Glenn Fitzgerald, Allen Payne, Julianna Margulies, Kathleen Chalfant, Edie Falco, John Randolph, Kim Hunter, Jackie Ryan, Shelton Dane

DIRECTOR: Boaz Yakin

PRODUCER: Lawrence Bender, John Penotti

SCRIPT: Boaz Yakin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Holender

EDITOR: Arthur Coburn

MUSIC: Lesley Barber

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Leigh

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: Melbourne, Brisbane: December 3, 1998 – Sydney: Dec 26

VIDEO RELEASE: June 16, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar







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