Memo to writer, director and producer: Kadish the Hebrew prayer for the dead, is not pronounced like radish; it is pronounced like Kahdish or Coddish. Though this may seem picayune, it’s a word that comes up often in a movie about the Holocaust, and particularly one that deals with showing respect for murdered Jews, it’s inexcusable to hear it constantly mispronounced by the Jewish protagonist as well as others. Imagine a movie about French people who call their capital Parees - could we take it seriously?
The Song of Names deals with a Jewish violin prodigy who is brought from Poland to London by his father in an attempt to save his son from the mounting threat of Hitler’s war. The young boy called Dovid’l lives with a non-Jewish family who have a son his age, Martin, who both admires and resents him for being his own father’s favorite. The story is told with a series of flash-forwards and back until it becomes clear that the prodigy has disappeared from London without leaving a trace, presumably leading to the foster father’s stroke and death and the resulting search by the foster brother to find him.
Dovid’l skips out on a prominent concert prior to his departure, a plot point that becomes significant later. More than 30 years elapse during Martin’s search, revealing many heart-breaking scenes that one can imagine dealing with the slaughter of six million Jews seen through the lens of one gifted “genius.” This, along with the hauntingly beautiful violin music, including Bruch’s sonata, make the movie worthwhile. Second memo to writer: the movie’s final revelation is unmoored to anything else that the viewer has seen, leaving the audience confused and uncomprehending. It’s an unnecessary tag-on that should be cut before this goes to Netflix or Amazon. It cheapens the ending and trivializes far more important points that have been made. The cast, headed by Tim Roth and Clive Owen is solid as expected.
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