Adam ben Kelev–Movie Review

Adam ben Kelev (Adam, Son of a Dog) (2008) was released in America as Adam Resurrected.  It is an AmericanGermanIsraeli film about a talented and charismatic circus performer named Adam who is forced to become the dog-companion of a concentration camp commandant.  Based on a critically acclaimed novel by the same name, the film moves between pre-Holocaust, Holocaust, and post Holocaust scenes, the latter primarily located in an Israeli mental hospital created for the treatment of Holocaust survivors.

The cast, starring Jeff Goldblum and William Defoe, is excellent.  Goldblum’s usually comic plasticity becomes grotesque through Adam’s insanity and it works.  The movie is–as it should be–disturbing.  It is also confusing in a way that suggests the novel is a better vehicle for the depth of insanity and brilliance displayed.

It has been often said that the best cure for the kinds of wounds inflicted by the Holocaust is the friendship and support of other Holocaust survivors.  This movie takes that proposition to what appears to be absurd proportions to make certain points, I think, about woundedness and trauma-inflicted insanity.  A Jewish legend about a prince who thinks he is a rooster is also brought into play in a very interesting and moving way. 

This film is not easy or fun.  It is fascinating and informative and hard.  I think it should be seen as an important contribution to post-Holocaust cinema and commentary.

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