This widely acclaimed motion picture features outstanding performances from Renee Zellweger (JERRY MAGUIRE, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) and Julianna Margulies (TV's ER, THE NEWTON BOYS). Sonia (Zellweger) is a young woman who a... more »lways did just what was expected: she married the right man, moved to the right neighborhood, and had a beautiful baby. And yet, when she discovers an exciting world beyond her tightly knit community, it sparks a growing desire for independence that threatens the security of the perfect life she knows. See A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES for yourself, and learn why critics and audiences nationwide have praised this passionate movie gem!« less
"Renee Zellweger plays against type as Sonia, a traditional Hasidic wife, who yearns for different experiences sexual and otherwise. On her journey, Sonia deals with extended family including a predatory brother-in-law and befriends a Puerto Rican artist (nicely portrayed by Allen Payne.)Along the way, the movie also deals with mysticism in the form of Sonia's dead brother and a homeless woman. Zellweger gives a good but subtle performance in her role.Apparently this movie was a huge subject of controversy when it was released. The Hasidic community reportedly took offense at their portrayal and the casting of the decidedly Waspish Zellweger in the lead role. Perhaps that's why it slipped under most people's radar.Their concern is understandable. When a group is rarely portrayed in the movies, any negative generalizations are a sensitive issue. But I think the controversy obscures what is in fact the movie's universal message. Individuals who feel that they don't belong in the community in which they've lived their entire lives and how or if they break out of that mold. The problem is not with the Hasidic community but with Sonia herself. She has to discover who she is. Unfortunately, Boaz Yakin may have been too subtle with his message and as a result most people missed it.For the most part, I enjoyed the movie. Like Fresh, Boaz Yakin's previous film, it's a bit uneven. (Interestingly, Fresh was a source of controversy in the African American community for it's subject matter. Perhaps this is a pattern with Yakin.) It's seems as if the director's vision may have been too ambituous for what he had to work with at times."
An excellent movie
K. Boullosa | 01/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like the book, The Catcher in the Rye, you'll like this film. The heroine is a young wife, new mother and Hasidic Jew living in present-day New York. While many reviewers felt that this film took a huge swipe at Judaism, the woman's religion is merely a very rich, complex context in which to explore one woman's sense of isolation and oppression. The movie also alludes to the inescapable nature of cultural rules for other groups through her friendship with a black/hispanic, Catholic man. As a young, female Christian from the Midwest, I did not see this woman's plight as that of a Jewish woman, but as that of any woman who must accept a life that ignores her need for sexual fullfillment, meaningful work and the ability to express herself openly and without male censure. This movie did nothing to undermine my respect for Judaism. The movie's main theme is about one woman's feelings of oppression. Oppression she likely never would have experienced had she the same opportunities and creative outlets as the men in her culture. Renee Zellweger was amazing in the lead role, and the supporting cast was excellent. This movie stayed with me for days after I saw it."
Thought Provoking . . .
K. Boullosa | 06/30/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this film very much, although I can see from the reviews that because it portrays negative aspects of a particular religious culture, it is receiving the usual reflexive denials from other members, as if one is obligated only to make movies that show all cultures as wonderful all the time! For the man who asked what would happen if they made movies like this about blacks and Indians - well, first of all, they did, for decades, and this movie is not remotely on a par with those as reductions of an entire people or culture. Someone who criticized the film didn't even watch it attentively enough to figure out that the ghostly child was Sonia's brother, not her "childhood friend", and then there's the illiterate review by someone who claims to be Jewish but complains about the movie being too Jewish . . . where do these people come from?!
Unhappy marriages occur in cultures the world over, and while the story does expose some of the hypocrisies of Orthodox culture, it isn't, per se, about those hypocrisies, nor does it reduce Orthodox culture to them. It's about Sonia Horowitz's struggle to find out where she really belongs - in doing so she makes huge mistakes and pays a heavy price for her dearly-bought self-knowledge. I've known people who left communities like this one precisely because they couldn't handle the restrictions - that's not an indictment of Orthodox Judaism, it only demonstrates that not everyone born into a certain culture actually belongs there.
The performances are excellent - special mention must go to Christopher Eccleston (a "goy" from Manchester, England, if you please!) for his coldly compelling performance as Sonia's amoral brother-in-law. Eccleston, more familiar to mainstream audiences as the baleful Duke of Norfolk to Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth I, playing an Orthodox jeweler in Brooklyn's Borough Park, is one of those wonderful mysteries of art that one can only be glad about. His fine performance aside, one of the flaws of the film is that there is insufficient background for his character's utter lack of conscience - we are only told through the narration of one childhood incident that he has always been so. Glenn Fitzgerald gives a sensitive performance as Mendel, Sonia's husband, as he struggles to come to terms with his wife's upheaval, and the dawning knowledge that they are dismally unsuited to each other. Renee Zellwegger gives an emotionally fraught performance as Sonia - this actress is talented, but displays now-recognizable mannerisms that she needs to bring under control. However, in this role, as the character is virtually having a nervous breakdown, these mannerisms served her well. The rest of the cast is very believable, as well, including Julia Margulies as Sonya's overbearing sister-in-law.
To say that a "sincere Jew" doesn't ignore his wife, as a reviewer below did, is absurd. Mahatma Gandhi was a terrible husband and parent. Sincere people everywhere do stupid things. Sonia's husband is deeply involved with his spiritual life - Mendel's obsession with Talmudic law and spiritual goodness, while oblivious to his wife's emotional needs and sufferings until far too late, could be transposed to the marriage of any exceptionally dedicated spouse following a cause, career, or religious passion. These conflicts are what give narratives tension and interest.
The film doesn't pretend to be anything but the story of Sonia Horowitz's emotional and spiritual struggle to figure out who she really is. I didn't take it any other way and only someone who is already bigoted would.
The movie is worth seeing, and demonstrates the uncomfortable reality that marriage serves different purposes for different people - one may be content within a strictly defined role, and find all his or her needs met within that role, while another, for no identifiable reason, does not."
AN INTENSE TALE OF EMANCIPATION. NOT ABOUT RELIGION.
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 01/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beyond a touch of sensationalistic Hollywoodisation (over-simplifying the perceived orthodoxy of Jews) the movie is about a woman who is stifled in her relationship with a fanatically devout husband, and in that it etches an intermittently sharp portrait of a subculture caught between a rich historical legacy and a changing contemporary world.To me, the movie was NOT about the Hasidic way of life. I could see this film holding just about as relevant even if I replaced the community potrayed in it with any other. It is about the marital suffering of two people who are very different in their moorings. Renee Zellweger, the pivot, does a very convincing job of showing the desperation in a young woman's personal search, Sonia, who embarks on a search for not only herself but also her place in the world -- for the duration of the film Renee gave Sonia the precise dignity and emotion that the role deserved. The supporting cast were strong, Juliana Margulies certainly showing that she's doesn't always play the 'nice girl'. Christopher Eccleston was convincingly wicked and Glenn Fitzgerald puts in a credible performance as Mendel, the husband, capturing the essence of the role commendably.Bordering sometimes on being a chick-flick, the movie generally deals with feminine issues, and I would think that the emotional dominion would have it seldom appeal to a male audience. Which is quite evident in the other belittling reviews here. I recommend this film highly, although it is an intense one and perhaps not for every Joe Blogg. Make sure you're in the mood."
Great movie, says this observant Jew
Shashank Tripathi | 08/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviewers here who describe themselves as Orthodox or Hassidic did not like the movie. I guess they worried that viewers would think the nasty characters were typical of Hassidic Jews.That's hard for me to see. The movie does not show Hassidic Jews as nasty; rather it shows that one fictional Hassidic community contains all kinds of people: both the innocent and the conniving; both the spiritually wise and the spiritually confused; both those comfortable with structure and those in constant rebellion against it. When these kinds of people try to live together, the result is tragi-comic.This tragi-comedy is played out in the inner life of the main character Sonya, a young wife, mother, and jeweler with the soul of an artist and the maturity of a teenager. Her strongly felt but poorly understood desire to get more out of life makes her an easy target for her brother-in-law, the movie's villain. Though many hearts are broken along the way, the movie has a hopeful ending.Viewers unfamiliar with Orthodox Jewish culture will miss some of the references in this movie, but the psychological dynamics are universal."