(director: Joan Micklin Silver; screenwriter: based on the play by Susan Sandler/Susan Sandler; cinematographer: Theo van de Sande; editor: Rick Shaine; music: Paul Chihara; cast: Amy Irving Isabelle ‘Izzy’ Grossman, Peter
Riegert (Sam Posner), Reizl Bozyk (Bubbie Kantor), Jeroen Krabbé (Anton Maes), Sylvia Miles (Hannah Mandelbaum), George Martin (Lional), Claudia Silver (Cecilia Monk), John Bedford Lloyd (Nick), Rosemary Harris (Pauline Swift), Suzzy Roche (Marilyn Cohen); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Michael Nozik; Warner Home Video; 1988)
“Every scene works in this wonderful but small film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Joan Micklin Silver (“Hester Street”/”Chilly Scenes of Winter”) directs with oomph Susan Sandler’s Broadway play. The playwright masterfully writes the script with all its incisive Jewishness intact. The sweet-natured and observant rom/com has a keen eye for portraying romance in a believable way and of giving you a clear picture of how some New Yorkers live. Every scene works in this wonderful but small film, one that offers us a more credible and weighty rom/com than the usual phony Hollywood film ever could.
Izzy (Amy Irving) is a charming 33-year-old career woman residing in a rent-controlled building on Manhattan’s hip Upper West Side, who works as the manager in a prestigious neighborhood bookstore that has regular public readings by famous authors. Her parents live in a retirement community in Florida.
The dependable Izzy once a week treks down to a different world to visit her traditional Old World grandmother, the loving but pushy Bubbie (Reizl Bozyk), in her poor ethnic neighborhood in the Lower East Side. Bubbie ambushes her on one visit with the presence of her friend, an overbearing matchmaker, Hannah Mandelbaum (Sylvia Miles), as she wants Izzy to marry a nice Jewish man. The reluctant Bubbie is forced to meet the neighborhood pickle seller from Delancey Street, who just took over the business when his father died. Though Sam’s a clean-cut nice guy and no loser, he’s an old-fashioned reliable guy and Izzy has her eye on the successful worldly Dutch writer living in the city and separated from his wife, Anton Maes (Jeroen Krabbé). They meet in the bookstore and flirt with each other. Thereby Izzy vacillates between choosing which very different type of man she wants, giving us some very poignant things to mull over. Though Bubbie’s feelings are quite clear that the dull pickle man is the right guy for Izzy, as she cleverly pushes them together. We’re left not sure if they will be a match by the time the film ends but the possibilities have grown that it might be, as the egocentric seductive writer will show his true colors in the third act.
All the performances are marvelous, but the relationship between Irving and the amazing Bozyk is truly special; and, the simple film about just trying to enjoy life is also special.
REVIEWED ON 12/2/2020 GRADE: A