"Do you know how many gynecologists there are in Israel?" he's asked by more than one Israeli bureaucrat. "No," he says. The answer: "A lot." Alain has to take a job washing cars. He lives in a hostel because he got swindled in a seaside property deal. And his wife, who's falling in love with her rabbi, won't have sex with him until he gets circumcised, which, in the most meant-to-be-funny-but-really-really-isn't moment of the film, he does.
The film might have a lot to say about the complexity of Jewish identity or about the (broken) promises of Israel, but it falls short of profound when it hastily wraps up with a pat ending. Nevertheless, the film remains amusing, and Depardieu's subtle performance makes the implausible plot seem possible. Hello Goodbye comes to the Michigan Theater April 29 as part of the Jewish Film Festival, which starts today.
[Originally published in April, 2010.]