“The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” (Original title: Wolkenbruchs wunderliche Reise in die Arme einer Schickse) is funny and stereotypical and at times boring. Is Motti’s story worth watching?
Motti Wolkenbruch is an Orthodox Jewish who falls in love with a “shiksa” (non-Jewish girl) named Laura. With Laura, Motti was introduced inside the non-Orthodox world: dancing and drinking in bars, having sex, and shaking hands with non-Jewish people. Resisting the pressures to follow his Jewish customs and tradition (including agreeing to a fixed marriage), Motti will need to choose between his family and Laura.
There are many films with this kind of theme that when I pressed play I was looking forward to something new and different from the story of Motti Wolkenbruch. The narrative is mostly provided by the internal narration of Motti. While I do not believe much about Motti’s dilemma that in this age he will be ostracized for falling in love with someone outside their community, the acting of the cast was enjoyable to watch especially his mom’s protectiveness and actions (which were unbelievable bordering to scandalous and stereotypical).
There’s plenty of references to Orthodox practices and Yiddishisms, and my curiosity with their culture makes “The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” fun to watch. True, there are other films featuring their Jewish tradition, but the comedy and familiarity of the theme worked in the film’s advantage.
Mortal Worthy (4 out of 5 stars). Joel Basman is superb as Motti and he carried the “The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” throughout its entirety. The hanging ending might be the final attempt of film to make something refreshing out of a familiar theme, but the lack of new perspective or insight was a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable film worthy of a Sunday night when you just want to chill and relax.
Cast: Joel Basman. Noemie Schmidt, Sunnyi Melles, Udo Samel, Inge Maux
Director: Michael Steiner