Ivan and Abraham | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ivan and Abraham 

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Director Yolande Zauberman says the two boys in Ivan and Abraham, her first fiction film, are each "on the edge of...different worlds." The same might be said of all the characters in this richly evocative, often disturbing depiction of Jewish and Christian life in 1930s Poland. Abraham is friends with Ivan, a Christian who lives with Abraham's family as an apprentice, and the two eventually run away together. Their community, exploited by a corrupt aristocrat and riven by anti-Semitism, is not a harmonious whole, and the multilingual sound track--we hear Yiddish, Russian, Polish, and a Gypsy dialect--underlines the diversity of cultures. We're never quite sure where locations are in relation to one another, and characters are often seen walking, running, fleeing, their lives constantly interrupted and redirected by initially unexplained events, as when people appear out of nowhere to harass others. All these devices give each scene a dislocated quality and tear at the sensuous, richly composed black-and-white images, creating a poetic vision of a world on the brink of dissolution. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, July 9, 2:00, 443-3737.

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