Price Above Rubies (A)
A tender portrayal of a woman with no place in her own world, "A Price Above Rubies" might have dropped to Earth from another place or time. Sonia (Zellweger) wants to become a good Hasidic wife to Mendel (Fitzgerald), a gentle rabbinic scholar. She tries hard to settle into his tight-knit family, but her own needs emerge as sexual passion so intense that she can't help but fall into an affair with her chilly brother-in-law Sender (Eccleston). Employed in his jewelry business, she discovers she has an exceptional talent for judging gems.
Her growing independence upsets her new family, and when she becomes friends with a young Puerto Rican artist, Ramon (Payne), they close her out entirely. Ms. Zellweger fills her part with intense sorrow, and director Yakin's unsentimental view of a religious community built on a nearly cloistered lifestyle is restrained and evenhanded, when he shows, for example, that Sonia's expulsion, although unjust, is self-defense and survival for the culture, which manages to keep going only by strict adherence to its arcane rules, as sister-in-law Rachel (Margulies) reminds Sonia when she tells her that her rebellion endangers them all.
Mr. Yakin shows the Hasidic world as a safe haven of spiritual wealth, personified in part by Sonia's husband -- who has more compassion than anger -- and his mentor. All that makes Sonia's choosing independence thus becomes highly dramatic and frightening -- a life-changing risk. Because he scorns conventional wisdom, Yakin creates a gentle, genuine human story told softly, full of insight and profundity poured in like shots.
Renee Zellweger, Allen Payne, Glenn Fitzgerald, Christopher Eccleston.
Hasidic, marriage, culture, adjustment, passion
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