Alvaro Brechner’s second feature length film, Mr. Kaplan, has received international acclaim as well as the honor of representing the nation of Uruguay as best foreign language film in several festivals throughout the world. Part of the international appeal of Mr Kaplan, aside from its mixture of the profound and the humorous, the tragic and the comic, this film centers on a subject familiar to all, especially in today’s world: memory.
As the world has seemed since the second World War to be engaged in an unending war that may switch setting from decade to decade, but always focuses around the same issues of fear and insurgency, it has become increasingly difficult for national communities to construct collective historical memories. Because information and narratives of political conflict saturate our every glance at a television or cell phone screen, notions of exactly what is happening and why become increasingly difficult to grasp as a collective whole. One community that has been struggling with this process since the second World War are the world’s Jews, many of whom are spread out from places like Israel, to New York to Uruguay and Argentina. Capturing ninety year old Nazis and extraditing them to Israel has been a common motif for south American Jews for several decades now, and the aged character Jacobo Kaplan seems to represent the tiredness of this common story: despite how important these moments are for members of the Jewish community and anyone else who feels the need to continue the process of international justice, Jacobo Kaplan’s hunt for a suspected ex-Nazi in Uruguay takes on an almost comic, albeit tragic, nature.
Jacobo Kaplan and his younger friend, Contreras, become a duo of amateur detectives that grasp for meaning in their own lives by investigating and tracking an elderly man they suspect of past involvement in heinous crimes. But does anyone actually still care? And why are they actually chasing him? For what end? We find through these two characters partial answers to these questions, no matter how dry, hilarious or painful they may be.
Mr Kaplan is our Showcase Film on Saturday Night, 8 PM - September 19th at the Bank of America Theater. See you all there!! This is a must-see for all!