Lisa Schwarzbaum
March 17, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Divan

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
77 minutes
Limited Release Date
03/17/04
director
Pearl Gluck
distributor
Zeitgeist Films
genre
Documentary

We gave it a B+

A worn couch is the inanimate star of Divan, but the heart of this delightfully personal documentary is filmmaker Pearl Gluck’s affectionate arm’s-length attachment to her Hasidic family. Having broken with the traditions of her Orthodox Jewish clan — she’s single at the age of 30 and secular in the city — Gluck nevertheless has effected a creative way to be-yet-not-be a keeper of the traditions: She takes it upon herself to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family divan languishing in Hungary — upon which, the story goes, a number of revered rabbis once slept — and keeps a video diary of her quest.

”Divan” intersperses Gluck’s journey to liberate the furniture — a pilgrim’s progress as cockeyed as any classic folktale — with interviews and commentary. In addition to hearing from the philosophers, noodges, and would-be matchmakers who manage to love her while wishing she were someone else, Gluck listens to the stories of other men and women who have left Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Judaism and whose lives are shaped by rift and realignment, with none of the wailing and teeth-gnashing that wore down ”Trembling Before G-d”. The serious struggle in this lilting doc is told with an inviting light touch and a big heart.

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