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Adam’s Wall (2008)

by on 2011/07/13

Adam’s Wall is a lovely CanCon film that makes me proud to be a Canadian. This small, quiet Montreal film embodies many of the best things about Canada: openness, tolerance, kindness, inclusiveness, compassion.

Directed by Michael MacKenzie, the story centres on Adam Ely (Jesse Aaron Dwyre) a charming Orthodox Jewish boy on his way to a clarinet audition at his local university. Adam’s life has been marred by tragedy. His parents were killed in Israel by Jewish soldiers when his mother’s clarinet was mistaken for a rifle at a late-night check point.

Raised by his strict grandfather who has no time nor love for music, Adam is forced to hide his own passion for music and the last remaining artifacts of his parents’ musical lives – old klezmer vinyl records – in a crumbling wall in the hills.

When Adam stumbles upon a silent protest, a collection of university students honouring the dead of conflicts in Darfur and Afghanistan, he meets Yasmine Gibran (Flavia Bechara). Pure Canadian politeness embodied, Adam is quickly (and quietly) convinced to join fellow students in feigning death by laying silently on the floor.

The ensuing aerial shot of Adam and Yasmine laying on the floor side by side is the axis upon which the entire film pivots. An Orthodox Jewish boy smiles at an Arab girl in full burka. It is moving, beautiful poem about hope, love and acceptance.

Adam and Yasmine’s relationship grows from that first whispered “hello” to something that shakes the foundations of both of their complex families and eventually the entire neighbourhood. Both Gibran and Dwyre deliver absolutely terrific performances.

Along the way, there are moments of pure, essential magic in Adam’s Wall. From the Sufi Muslim bookstore owner Mostafa (Tyrone Benskin) teaching Adam a mystical Hasidic ritual designed to unite the fractured neighbourhood, to Adam demonstrating the clarinet part of a song on Yasmine’s outstretched arm to the crackle of old vinyl that hasn’t been played in years. Magic.

This movie is filled with the best of what we are and could be. In Adam’s Wall, we learn that peace comes from small, quiet acts of humanity and uncomplicated kindness.

In a world so filled with anger and self-righteousness, it was nice to see sweetness lives somewhere in my home and native land.

* * * *

94 minutes

Rated PG for pure goodness, perfectly genuine performances and pretty goofy sectarian turmoil

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