A Price Above Rubies

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Review, by Karen Jaehne

A Price above Rubies marks the return of at least three major talents who had debuts at the Sundance Film Festival: director Boaz Yakin (Fresh), producer Lawrence Bender (Reservoir Dogs), and star Renée Zellweger (The Whole Wide World). As might be anticipated, their collaboration has resulted in a very special work.

Zellweger plays Sonia, a Hasidic woman who has become what she was brought up to be: wife to a rabbinical scholar. When she is offered a position to run a jewelry shop operating out of a home in the community, suddenly she gains contact with a world outside the insular, rigidly controlled sphere in which she lives. Even more critically she enters a realm in which her passions, so sublimated previously, begin to find realization.

A Price above Rubies intertwines morality and love, freedom and desire, and the contradictions of life under orthodoxy. Yakin has demonstrated again an aptitude for presenting worlds far from his own and garnered a splendid set of performances from his leads, especially Zellweger who inhabits her role so completely she makes you forget she's acting. The world of the Hasidim has rarely if ever been presented on screen with such a focus on its mores, values, and practices and without caricature, dismissiveness, or vitriol. Beautifully written and intensely felt and rendered, Rubies does what film can do so magically: transport us to another time and place in order to experience a world beyond ourselves.

- Geoffrey Gilmore

Directed by: Boaz Yakin
Written by: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Christopher Eccleston, Glenn Fitzgerald, Julianna Margulies, Kathleen Chalfant, Edie Falco, John Randolph, Allen Payne
Produced by: Lawrence Bender, John Penotti
Original Music by: Lesley Barber

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