Mrs. Moskowitz and the Cats @ Montreal Israel Film Festival

mrs moskowitz and the catsRetired French teacher Yolanda Moskowitz (Rita Zohar – Waterworld, Amadeus) leads a very isolated life.  Mrs. Moskowitz did have a husband, but he died young.  Seemingly she has no family or circle of friends to spend time with.  She lives alone and other than the multitude of stray cats outside her apartment building in Tel Aviv she does not really interact with any other living things.  It is a lonely existence.

One night while going up stairs to her flat she falls and ends up in the hospital with a fracture in her leg.  Mrs. Moskowitz is not very happy about being there.  She is even more discouraged when she is told that she will be there for a long while as she rehabilitates.  While she is at the hospital Mrs. Moskowitz will be sharing a room with Alegra (Shulamit Adar).

Things begin to look up when she meets a gentleman named Shaul (Moni Moshonov – We Own the Night, Two Lovers) who is also rehabbing at the hospital.  One evening Shaul and Yolanda get drunk together and dance.  They are caught and separated.  Yolanda is told that Shaul should not be drinking as he is going to have an operation and his liver is already in a bad state.

Shaul has his operation as Yolanda is discharged from the hospital.  She is back home to the constant sounds of the stray cats and the loneliness.  Her mood goes even lower when she finds out that the doctors are not optimistic about Shaul’s chances at recovery and that two days after her release Alegra died.

A touching film about love at an age that most films don’t address when making romantic films.  This one goes full blast into love for the over 70 age category.  When we get older these emotions don’t just curl up and die.  They go on and are not often examined in film making it appear like they don’t exist.  And props should be given to director Jorge Gurvich, who in his first film shows plenty of courage and sensitivity.

Another important issue that the film delves into is the fragility of life, especially at this age.  It encourages us to value every person and experience that we come across.  Though it does show the fragility and vulnerability we all experience as we age it does not stoop to clichés.  As a result, it is not depressing.  In actuality it goes a long way towards affirming the joy of the experience of living no matter what age.

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