Between the Temples, directed by Nate Silver and written by Silver and C. Mason, is an exploration of grief, faith and self-discovery. Starring Carol Kane and Jason Schwartzman, it’s not just a story about overcoming grief but a testament to the power of self-belief, the importance of accepting support and the transformative potential of unexpected relationships.
Ben (Schwartzman) and his scratched-up pipes are just the beginning of his issues. He’s a man in mourning after suffering the tragic loss of his wife, who left him with a giant house full of memories. Instead of staying, he promptly shacked up with Mom and Stepmom in hopes of finding some peace. But his family, rabbi and whole community seem to be spectating his grief, just waiting for him to move on so life can go on its merry way. Too bad Ben’s not overly keen on appeasing their expectations anytime soon. That is until he meets Carla O’Connor.
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Carla (Kane) finds herself back in the presence of her former music student, Ben, except this time she’s the pupil itching to learn. Newly retired and tired of letting others dictate her faith journey, Carla’s determined to explore her Jewish roots in earnest and get herself Bat Mitzvah-certified. But old hang-ups die hard, whether from Communist parents who nixed it in her youth or an atheist hubby who wouldn’t entertain the idea. Nevertheless, Carla remains fixed on studying with Ben, vocal issues be damned.
At its core, Between the Temples — the body temple and the physical temple — is about reconciliation with one’s faith, relationships and own agency. Ben must find his love of music again after personal tragedy, while Carla seizes control of her religious identity. They believe in each other before themselves, highlighted by Silver’s intimate, claustrophobic shooting style that isolates the characters in their own anxiety. It is this eventual mutual hope that allows Ben and Carla to heal.
Kane is truly the film’s shining star and chief comedic engine. Her raspy, high-pitched voice and impeccable comic timing induces laughs to every syllable. Yet Schwartzman manages to ground the high jinks with his trademark deadpan charm, carving out a space for quirk in Hollywood once again.
Funny yet philosophical, Between the Temples will speak to any viewer who has felt stuck chasing someone else’s expectations. You have to believe in yourself as much as having others believe in you. These two lost souls are helping each other to heal through understanding and song. Driven by Kane and Schwartzman’s chemistry, the film humanizes the midlife reawakening many eventually face en route to self-acceptance.
Title: Between the Temples
Festival (Section): Sundance (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Director: Nathan Silver
Screenwriters: Nathan Silver and C. Mason Wells
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Carol Kane, Caroline Aaron, Dolly De Leon, Robert Smigel, Madeline Weinstein, Matthew Shear
Sales agent: CAA/Anonymous Content
Running time: 1 hr 51 min
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