Watched “The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch” on Netflix. Alas, it is not a good movie, which is a shame because it has a nice cast and some good cinematography (Zurich looks lovely!) and really how many contemporary Jewish coming of age stories are being made in the German speaking world?
Unfortunately, all the characters, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, have the depth of two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. No one feels remotely real. It’s an Orthodox “Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I guess the characters are supposed to feel honored just for being portrayed on the big screen. Ugh. And Switzerland submitted this to the Academy for best foreign film consideration. Double Ugh.
One linguistic item of note: An remarkably reasonable amount of Yiddish! Shtisel, wonderful Israeli show, also on Netflix, does a infinitely better job of depicting the Orthodox world, but doesn’t really use a lot of Yiddish, considering Yiddish would be its characters primary language. I assume Yiddish is difficult for Shtisel’s Hebrew speaking cast. Motti takes advantage of its German speaking cast who presumably have an easier time with Yiddish dialogue. Another linguistic curiosity: How come I can understand the German? Do university students in Zurich speak High German, or do movies just avoid Swiss German to reach a broader audience? Or both?