Félix & Meira
2015, R, 106 min. Directed by Maxime Giroux. Starring Martin Dubreuil, Hadas Yaron, Luzer Twersky, Anne-Élisabeth Bossé, Benoît Girard, Melissa Weisz, Josh Doguin.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., May 29, 2015
The logistics of love may be the universe’s most impenetrable mystery. Who’s to say why two people make the unfathomable decision to give their hearts to each other? The question, nevertheless, nags in the trilingual Canadian film Félix and Meira, which recounts the unlikely romance between a rebellious young wife and mother (Yaron) in the Hasidic Jewish community and an aimless, slightly older man with no religious inclinations (Dubreuil) who is mourning the death of his emotionally distant father. Meeting by chance in a Montreal neighborhood bakery, these two strangers from different worlds strike up a friendship borne of a shared love of drawing and sketching. Soon their relationship deepens, seemingly more out of curiosity than anything, and threatens both Meira’s already shaky marriage and Felix’s lonely complacency. The movie approaches this mutual attraction tentatively, much as the two characters do. And that’s the problem with this well-meaning but ultimately hollow film romance: You don’t see it; you don’t get it.
Forbidden romance is a respected narrative staple, but it’s usually coupled with a passion that explains why the lovers dare to love. Félix and Meira, however, never seems to get past first base, leaving you to wonder what exactly brings (and will keep) these two people together. (The film’s disjointed sense of time doesn’t help in this respect.) A rare instance in which director Giroux permits a flicker of raw emotion occurs when Meira’s distraught husband (Twersky) confronts the couple on the street and repeatedly strikes a fallen Félix in a show of anger and indignation. What’s so striking (and touching) about this scene is the gentleness of the violence depicted. Indeed, as the abandoned spouse, Twersky generates more empathy than the two principals combined because the film allows him to express the tormented inner life his character is experiencing. When the rivals for Meira’s affection finally meet man-to-man to discuss their predicament, your eyes unwaveringly focus on the husband, a man whose unquestionable love for his wife is tragically constrained by the traditions of his conservative religious beliefs. Now that’s a love story.