A story of fathers, sons, community, and life.
Director: Daniel Burman/2016
Street Date: February 7, 2017/Kino Lorber
“For death, why do Jews need a quorum?”
This is the question that is asked by Ariel (Alan Sabbagh), referring to the practice of needing 10 men to carry the casket in a funeral, even if the men did not know the deceased. It was a painful childhood memory that prompted this question decades later, when Ariel remembers how his father Usher (Usher Barilka) was called to be the 10th man in the funeral of a stranger that led to him missing his son’s school presentation of the presenting of the flag. Ariel’s relationship with his father slowly faded and Ariel grew up and left Once, the bustling Jewish district in Buenos Aires, for New York, where he is an economist.
The Tenth Man has a quiet humor about it found in the everyday situations of life.
The story of the film is of Ariel’s return to Buenos Aires where he hopes to bring his girlfriend to meet his father. The only problem: his girlfriend is a dancer and has to stay behind for an audition. In short, she isn’t going on this trip. Ariel is told to at least bring a picture if everyone isn’t going to get to meet her.
The rest of the film follows Ariel on his journey back home where he is constantly being sent on errands by his father to help the struggling foundation (charity) he started years ago, as people are in constant need of various items.
Accompanied by his father’s assistant, Eva (Julieta Zylberberg), who never speaks, Ariel finds that these mundane tasks are pulling him further and further into the community he had left behind. Through it all, he may even find the answer to the perplexing reason by the idea of the tenth man, that he has questioned all his life.
The Tenth Man is ultimately a story about fathers and their sons.
The Tenth Man is a quiet film with the feel of a documentary. This is by design. Director Daniel Burman actually formulated this fictional story around the real life Usher and his foundation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Seeing how busy Usher constantly is, he began to ask questions about what it is like for a son to have to share his father with the community and the effect it might have on their relationship.
The Tenth Man is ultimately a story about fathers and their sons. Many of the actors in the film are the real people who daily wake up to serve their community. Even the quirky car that Ariel is driving around belongs to the actual foundation being fictionalized in the film.
The Tenth Man has a quiet humor about it found in the everyday situations of life. From Ariel’s attempt to communicate with the frustratingly silent Eva, to his encountering a mikvah and an orthodox ceremony that reconnects him with the faith he has left, Burman provides subtle touches that allows for the audience to witness the beauty of community in all of its glory, warts and all.
In addition to celebrating the general idea of community, the film also pays homage to the people and country of Argentina. Most people who watch this film may not have much familiarity with this country, but even more so, they also not know that there is a bustling Jewish community in Argentina. It is a fun and fascinating experience to see the two cultures mesh together with both Spanish and Hebrew being spoken with such fluidity. This film celebrates being both Argentinian and Jewish, but also reflects back the larger notions of community that all can recognize irregardless of one’s cultural identity.
The DVD by Kino Lorber is being offered in 5.1 surround sound. The film is in Spanish, Hebrew, and Yiddish with English subtitles. There are some bonus features including a trailer for the film, and other Kino Lorber titles, as well as a fascinating “making of” documentary featuring Daniel Burman. In this behind the scenes look at the film, one is given a glimpse at the true subjects at the heart of this fictional story. The real-life Usher, also portrays the fictionalized version of himself in the film, and he is every bit the character he is being portrayed as. This is a fantastic accompanying feature to the film that will help place The Tenth Man in its proper context.
The images used in the review are present only as a reference to the film and are not meant to reflect the actual image quality of the Blu-ray.