Desert Hearts: I watch “The Jewish Cardinal”

Eve Tushnet | 1/20/2019 | Staff
Caris (Posted by) Level 3
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Click For Photo: https://wp-media.patheos.com/blogs/sites/194/2019/01/WLA_jewishmuseum_Greek_Torah_Scroll_from_Ionnina-768x512.jpg

Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them.

The Jewish Cardinal is a 2013 biopic of Jean-Marie (ne Aaron) Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Catholicism at age 14, a few months after the Nazis occupied France. The storyline of the movie is basically that one fact, its implications and its inner engines and its inescapability. It’s about a man who may have wanted to be many things (a cardinal never among them) but who was called by God to be one thing: the Jewish cardinal.

Film - Director - Ilan - Duran - Cohen

For me the film, from director Ilan Duran Cohen (who co-wrote with Chantal Derudder), was haunting and painful in spite of its weaknesses. It’s a film full of talking–or rather, yelling, since most of these characters spend most of their time in angry conflict. The Cardinal (Laurent Lucas) is an irascible man, impatient in a way that would humanize him more in a movie which spent less of its time on his arguments. His cousin (Audrey Dana) and father (Henri Guybet) are fairly one-note, she patient and he disappointed. He has a priest-helpmeet (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) who provides a needed respite–I did love how this film portrays men in one another’s service, the admiration a man can have for his superior in religion. This priest’s service has the personal character of an obedient, self-effacing love.

The most complex of the cardinal’s relationships is his early infatuation with Pope John Paul II (Aurélien Recoing, with an uncanny impression of that pope’s canny smirk), which curdles when a Catholic convent is opened at Auschwitz. Cardinal Lustiger finds that the Pope is willing to sacrifice Jewish dignity and Jewish memory in order to score points against the Polish Communists. John Paul II is not a villain, here, but he’s the closest thing...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Eve Tushnet
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