A young married woman from Montreal's Orthodox Jewish community finds freedom from the strictures of her faith through her relationship with a young man who is mourning the death of his estranged father.
Contemporary World Cinema
Felix and Meira
In Félix et Meira, an unusual romance blooms between two lost souls who inhabit the same neighbourhood but vastly different worlds. Maxime Giroux's latest feature is a sensitive study of tradition, religion, and desire in present-day Montreal.
Meira (Hadas Yaron) is a young Hasidic Jewish wife and mother living in Montreal's Mile End district. Discontented with her marriage and life, she rebels secretly against her faith by listening to soul music and taking birth control pills. Secular francophone Félix (Martin Dubreuil) is an odd loner living nearby, grieving over the recent death of his estranged father. Intrigued by Meira, Félix hopes her religious devotion will provide insight into his loss. Though she rebuffs him at first, they begin to meet in secret; a mutual affection soon arises, and she acquires a taste for life outside the strictures of her faith. As Meira's desire for change becomes harder for her to hide, and her husband becomes more suspicious, the tension between them builds. Ultimately Meira must choose: leave her community to be with Félix, or stay.
Giroux's respectful, detailed representation of the close-knit Orthodox Jewish community shows us a Montreal rarely seen on screen. But at its core, this is the tale of one woman's personal journey, her inner struggle for happiness, and the difficult choices she must make. Yaron's subtle, expressive performance exquisitely guides us through Meira's experience: not a typical swooning romance but one born of unhappiness, whose very viability is in doubt from the outset. In the light of Quebec's recent controversial legislation attempts, Félix et Meira is a timely reminder that there are different kinds of rights to freedom — the right to maintain long-held religious traditions, and the right to choose one's own identity.
AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO