Review of Nora's Will (Five Days Without Nora)

Not all movie goers want action, or high-tech imagery when they go to a film. Sometimes they want to be challenged and learn something during the two-hour escapade.

Nora’s Will is one such film. 


Nora’s Will is an import from Mexico written and directed by Mariana Chenillo. The dark comedy is heavy on dialog – in Spanish, with subtitles – beautifully crafted with a subtle comedic script and wonderful attention to detail. The delicate set decoration and calm, careful camera shots introduce you to the typical trappings of an upper middle class family living in Mexico City.  The movie relates the dynamics of a divorced couple whose pride will outwit the other until the bitter end.  

Jose (Fernando Lujan) divorced his wife of 30 years after their tumultuous relationship was undermined by no less than 15 failed suicide attempts on her part. Tweny years later her last, and fatal, attempt is one she cleverly arranged around the Jewish Passover celebrations to deliberately bring the family together for the annual feast in place of a memorial.  The food is delivered, Nora (Silvia Mariscal) personally sets an exquisite table, and before swalloing three bottles of pills even takes the time to lock away personal items… except for one incriminating photo.

The family quickly finds itself with a dilemma on their hands; there are no Jewish burial services during this holiday, and Nora committed suicide which places her body in a less-than-respectable part of the Jewish cemetery.  Her husband, or ex-husband, pushes his atheist’s beliefs to the limit and challenges everyone to bury her in a Catholic cemetery which will do a (very funny) Wake-To-Go in less than an hour, plus have her interred in as much time.  

Religious sentiments, and the family’s effort to honor the matriarch’s final wishes, become the predicament involving both church leaders and relatives over the five days the body lays iced down on the bedroom floor while her final resting place is decided.

Ironically, it is the cantankerous Jose who manages to solve the problem and give his wife, ex-wife, civilized closure.

Nora's Will taps the arc of human sentiments; you’ll laugh uncomfortably while holding back emotions; you'll be frustrated and then rewarded. The film moves slowly giving you enough time to take in its charms.  While sitting there, you’ll likely think about what most of us put off until the last minute, but you'll walk away feeling better knowing the goodness of the human spirit still triumphs over many years of bitterness.

If you go see Nora's Will, don't be in a hurry, the film certainly isn't!

Disclosure: I was given complimentary tickets by Menemsha Films.

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