Between the Temples (2024)

Between the Temples Review

Between the Temples (2024)

Schwartzman stars as a cantor in crisis who becomes smitten with his adult Bat Mitzvah pupil, played by Kane in a film also co-starring Dolly De Leon and Caroline Aaron.

Then he runs into his childhood music teacher, Carla Kessler (Carol Kane) at a bar and she’s like a jolt. She’s honest, She speaks her mind, and She has a lust for life that rivals women half her age. Soon, she becomes Ben’s improbable bat mitzvah student and friend, and Ben is determined to teach her everything he knows for as long as possible.

But things get complicated when the rabbi (Robert Smigel) sets Ben up with his daughter, Gabby (Madeline Weinstein). His pushy realtor mother, Judith (Dolly De Leon), invites her over and pressures him to spend time with her. Meira (Caroline Aaron), his other mother, doesn’t apply much pressure but clearly wants Ben to give love another try and what could be more perfect than the rabbi’s daughter? Pretty young thing who resembles his dead wife Ruth on some level though not physically so much as energetically; Ruth was a sexy, confident novelist with an erotic mind and drinking problem but he only says this once almost casually because it died with her.

Now there is only this A little boy-man hoping for something different maybe softer? with Carla.

Who could be old enough to be his mother but already has a son of her own (Matthew Shear), who does not approve of their tender yet chaste relationship and he is not alone in finding their connection strange it echoes Harold and Maude but from the Ruth Gordon side. It is nice to see Carol Kane all up there on the big screen again getting to play around with those legendary comedy chops hers there is something about her that is both earthly and otherworldly charming, confounding, hilarious, and unique.

A companion to Beau Is Afraid Between the Temples can be seen as a theme that studies the bond between Jewish mothers and their sons, as well as the male self-hatred that has always been an integral part of Jewish comedy and film. Ben is afraid in precisely the same way that Beau is he’s scared of letting down his moms he’s scared of not being a good enough Jew and most acutely he’s scared that love and happiness might not actually be real possibilities for him. She is everything to him: his mother figure, his lover and his doting student in a world filled with emotional chaos, they ground each other.

Schwartzman has been a lead before, but never like this. Here he’s kind of like a Jewish Steve Carell, throwing himself headlong into comedy without any social skills to speak of Ben is an awkward man who cannot help but attract attention to himself all of his emotions are on full display at every moment. It’s quite far from Schwartzman’s more groomed petulant handsome artsy characters in Wes Anderson movies. In one scene which will stick with you forever, Ben watches a video from his own bar mitzvah and hallucinates an interaction with himself as child. The beautiful weirdness not only transforms the film but also makes it deeply and beautifully strange.

Between the Temples finds director Nathan Silver (Thirst Street) in another mode entirely. He maintains his acidic sense of humor throughout but has written a screenplay here that is surprisingly optimistic this may be embarrassing for some people as everyone talks over each other always waiting just around corners for something horrible happen any second embarrassment right? But there are moments when just Schwartzman and Kane are alone together in scene where sweetness feels new unlike anything before seen like Stinking Heaven was so different I mean come on who believes stories about two people enjoying each other company being close friends loving each others company huh? And yet here we are as it should be.

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