Nora's Will Mariana Chenillo
Published Feb 24, 2011Oddly enough, Nora's Will, the amended American title of Award-winning Mexican film Cinco Dias sin Nora (Five Days Without Nora), is actually more astute, being a clever double-entendre referring to the titular Nora's physical and psychic "will" simultaneously, tossing some Schopenhauer musings and assertions of passive motivations onto an already layered text.
It stems from the suicide of Nora (Silvia Mariscal) during the opening title sequence, whose preparation of an entire Seder meal and careful placement of notes around her apartment act as a passive (-aggressive) mode of will and manipulation beyond the grave, as does the delivery of frozen food to her ex-husband and neighbour José (Fernando Luján), which spurs his discovery of her body.
Knowing the difficulty in finding a Hebrew cemetery that will accept the body of a suicide in Mexico City, along with the implicit issue of the proximity to Passover, she ultimately forces her ex-husband and son Ruben (Ari Brickman) into a family reunion of sorts, despite some reservations to Jewish ideology and tradition.
It's the gradual discovery of goading by the reluctant and similarly passive-aggressive José that invigorates a treatise on remembrance and regret with sly comedy. Instead of eating the Jewish meal prepared and labelled for him in the refrigerator, he orders a sausage pizza, invasively consuming chametz and pork in front of a visiting Rabbi within seven days of Passover. Some of these religious specifics remain insular, appreciated more so by those with knowledge of the faith, but everyone can appreciate the subtle battle-of-wills humour stemming from anticipation beyond the grave.
As the story progresses and José's stoic stubbornness secedes, the film takes on a contemplative tone that serves it well, acknowledging and celebrating life and memory in the face of death. His reluctant embrace of his ex-wife's calculated plan comes twofold, with a character defining arc and a religiously relevant freeing from his figurative bonds.
If there is a flaw in Nora's Will it's on the technical side, with many of the shots having an awkward tableau feel that doesn't always flow organically. (VSC)