The Komediant

"Good"

The Komediant Review


The rich tradition of Jewish entertainment is explored through a slice of family life in this affectionate depiction of changing times. A portrayal that extends through several decades and continents, The Komediant is a well-rounded historical record of the Burnstein clan, a famous vaudeville act whose genesis sprang from rebellion when Pesach'ke Burstein left his Orthodox home in a quest to become an actor.

To get as complete of picture as possible of the theatrical lifestyle at the time, interviews with the remaining Burnstein family members are mixed with those of their peers and archival footage from their more popular shows. The various discussions and images provide an eclectic glimpse into the past, along with the interesting journey of just how the Burnsteins managed to carve themselves a piece of spotlight.

Better yet is the open acknowledgment of dysfunction that occurs in a family of entertainers. Never do any part of the foursome (wife Lillian Lux, and twins Mike and Susan) appear to be covering up or embellishing a personal detail for the sake of the camera. Whether they laugh or cry, these reactions feel spontaneous. Though Pesach'ke can't speak because he is deceased, the footage used of him wisely denotes an affable man whose paternal skills are questionable in the face of keeping his name in show business. What keeps him at center focus, and adds a nice shade of artistic comment, is how many of his songs are based on personally revealing information. These allusions create an environment in which it's easy to understand how fame can be both a blessing and a curse.

This honesty about lack of familial connection doesn't come across as some cheap reminder that even famous people have problems too, but perhaps as an accidental conversation that wasn't supposed to veer in that direction. Maybe it's being in the public eye so long, but it was surprising to have some of these dramatic tidbits included. The articulation of these flaws allows for a well-rounded picture of the effects of fame. It becomes even more engrossing as Mike and Susan discuss the conflicting desires entailed in leaving the nest.

Unfortunately, director Arnon Goldfinger allies this intimacy with the stereotypical usage of talking heads. Sometimes there is a beautifully sincere moment when you're glad a specific reaction has been captured, but often the stories repeat themselves, so you already know what the next person will say before it leaves his mouth. It would have been helpful had some of the Burstein peers related anecdotes not already discussed by family members, and with the same reminiscent flourishes.

For those who like to backpedal and study up on entertainment trends, The Komediant is a respectful discovery of events and people often forgotten in the daily rush of the next blockbuster. It's not so much enjoyable to watch as it is enlightening to listen to new sides of a previous reality, and to visit with some of the people who were able to make an impact in the theater world.

The eyes have it.



The Komediant

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 27th April 2000

Distributed by: New Yorker Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Contactmusic


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