?Days like this, I miss Siberia.?
A new phone becomes the catalyst for an older man to find new ways of seeing things in iMordecai from Marvin Samel. The story is based in the Samel family history. As such this is a personal project.
Mordecai Samel (Judd Hirsch) is a Holocaust survivor. As a child, he and his parents escaped Poland to the Soviet Union. The rest of his extended family were killed at Treblinka. Mordecai spent years in a Siberian orphanage. He later moved to Israel when he fought in the Israeli army. Then, he moved to Brooklyn where he married Fela (Carol Kane), and worked as both a housepainter and a plumber until they retired to Florida.
Mordecai spent his life fixing things. He figured he could fix everything. He sets out on bizarre DIY projects, like remodeling the bathroom with a jackhammer. At times, he pushed his way into his son Marvin?s (Sean Astin) life, almost always upsetting Marvin in the process. When Mordecai?s old flip-phone, held together by duct tape and foil died, Marvin takes him to get the latest new phone. Mordecai wants nothing to do with this thing that doesn?t even have buttons. But Nina (Azia Dinea Hale), a young woman who works at the store gives him private lessons on how to use it.
Then Fela is diagnosed with dementia. She needs special care, but Mordecai sneaks out to connect with Nina for more lessons. He is also making new friends with the other young people in the store, telling them his life story.
Marvin is also in the process of a major business deal, but he doesn?t want Mordecai to know about it, thinking that his father would want to get involve and ?fix things?. The rift that is developing between the two men has been growing for years. Is this something that Mordecai can?t fix?
As I said above, this is a personal project. The real Marvin Samel began writing the stories of his family after his mother?s diagnosis. Such personal histories are important. They contain both humor and pathos, as does this film. Probably the highlight of the film is a well edited section where Mordecai and Martin are in two different venues telling rapt audiences the same story from Mordecai?s life in Brooklyn.
Vanity projects often offer limited appeal. It relies a bit too much on stereotypes of both senior citizens and Jewish immigrants. While there are some universals to the family history, the film will not have the meaning to many viewers that it will have for those who know these people.
iMordecai is in theaters.
Photos courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.