“Leona”: Caught Between Two Worlds but Burnt by Ethnocentricity and Pride

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Ariela is a wealthy young lady from a Mexican Jewish family. Her friends are all getting married to eligible Jewish bachelors. She has a bit of a problem. She’s fallen for Ivan, a non-Jew.

She receives warnings about her folly. Her family members think this will bring disgrace on the family. The rabbi says she is violating the foundation of a very private club. Her mother throws her out of the house for her relationship with a goy. Indeed religion can be cruel.

Ariel, a muralist, is well accepted by Ivan’s family. Ivan and Ariel move in together but Ivan becomes increasingly upset at not being invited to Ariel’s community. It’s a false sense of pride as he certainly knows it would not go well. So they squabble and out he goes and finds a new girlfriend.

Ariel gets set up with eligible Jewish bachelors but the dates do not go well until Gabriel shows up. A nice guy but there is a gentle simmering tension building between Ariel and Gabriel as he disapproves of her street mural painting and then takes the step of getting all families to agree on a wedding with Ariel without telling her. That really signals the end of that relationship. Too bad for the community as they had accepted her back with loving arms once she broke up with Ivan.

Ariel in Hebrew is “Lion of God” and Ariel signs her mural “Leon” which in Spanish means “lion”. She may be fierce but in what direction will she head?

If you have been around a few years this is kind of a “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” type of film. So the movie’s theme can be stale. But if you are younger than 30 you might find this movie interesting but the theme is about as old as they come.

This 2018 Mexican 95-minute movie is part of the 2109 Toronto Jewish Film Festival. It is directed by Isaac Cherem. It plays on May 9 at 9 p.m. at Ted Rogers Hot Docs Theatre and on May 11 at 9 p.m. at Cineplex Empress Walk 6.

To learn more about the movie and see the trailer https://tjff.com/films/leona/

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