Release date: October 17, 2012 Director: Henry Jaglom
Henry Jaglom’s latest film, 45 Minutes From Broadway, is easily one of the best films that the unashamedly independent director has made in quite some time. It is a film that is full of memorable moments and performances – almost magical, in a sense.
Henry Jaglom reunites with his muse, the wonderful Tanna Frederick, to tell this story of The Isaacs, a family of actors, all of whom have a background in Yiddish theatre. The film opens as Vivian and George Isaacs prepare to have their oldest daughter, Betsey, and her fiancé, James, over for dinner. This proves to be something of an issue for the younger daughter, Pandora – played with an unrestrained energy by Tanna Frederick – who has just come out of a bad relationship. Both Pandora and Betsey have had their share of issues, most of which run deep on an emotional and psychological level.
Before James’ arrival, he is immediately labeled as a “civilian”, also known as an individual who has not been raised in a theatrical background. James seems a perfect match for Betsey, who has managed to escape the drama and the emotional histrionics that come with such a family, and is clearly attempting to live a normal existence.
However, once James arrives and meets the family, he becomes fascinated with their way of life, and ultimately finds a kindred spirit in Pandora, who despite her natural born flair for the dramatic, retains a passion for life and for love, the likes of which Betsey has either lost or willingly forgotten.
Throughout the film, Pandora and her sister Betsey will have to confront their problems, leading to many riveting and tender scenes. Pandora has been brought up in the theatre and has remained there as an adult. At thirty years of age, the theatre is all that she knows. She carries it with her in her every day life, on and off the stage, which has led to the failure of many of her intimate relationships. Betsey fails to accept her background, and oftentimes sees herself as superior to her sister, smugly writing off Pandora’s emotional outbursts as a cheap method of getting attention.
Meanwhile, Pandora’s father, George, prepares to be the subject of an online Skype interview, which will serve as a retrospective of sorts on his life in the Yiddish theatre. Her Uncle Larry, a character actor, constantly doubts his self-worth and mourns over the death of his mother. In a beautiful scene, his sister, Vivian, comforts him and helps him to realize that he has made a difference.
A family of thespians, all with their own doubts and sorrows, all with their own individual moments of happiness and joy and moments of discovery. This is the world of 45 Minutes from Broadway.
Director Henry Jaglom knows the world of actors. This isn’t the first film of his to deal with the subject. From Last Summer in the Hamptons to Festival in Cannes, Hollywood Dreams and Queen of the Lot, Jaglom pulls us into this world and introduces us to some charming individuals. 45 Minutes from Broadway has been adapted from the stage to the screen from Jaglom’s own play, and there are several surreal moments where the film becomes a play within a film, shot entirely on a stage. The red curtain is pulled back, and we see this family clearly living within their element. These are some of the best moments in the film. A Passover Seder scene, featuring Henry Jaglom’s older brother, Michael Emil, is noteworthy. If you are a fan of Jaglom’s work, you know that Mr. Emil is always a welcome presence on the screen. It was joy to see him here.
The performances are amazing all around. Tanna Frederick is perfectly cast as Pandora, giving just the right amount of manic energy and raw emotion that is required of her role. As with Frederick’s work in Jaglom’s previous films, it is impossible to take your eyes off of her. It seems as though Jaglom has given her free reign here, and the results are mesmerizing. Judd Nelson gives us the most restrained performance as James, and it is quite fun to watch his reactions to the wild antics of the Isaacs family. He anchors the film, giving it a nice balance. Julie Davis is appropriately restrained as Betsey, giving us a clear representation of someone who has moved from one extreme to the other. It is a totally believable performance – biting and unforgettable. Diane Salinger and Jack Heller are endearing as parents George and Vivian Isaacs, and David Proval gives one of the best performances of his career as Larry Cooper. Harriet Schock and Mary Crosby are delightful in smaller supporting roles.
Henry Jaglom has crafted a small gem in 45 Minutes from Broadway. His many fans should be pleased – and those who are not entirely familiar with Jaglom’s work should definitely seek it out.
Adam is a hardcore film fanatic. Some would call him a film snob. They’re probably right. He’s been writing film reviews for as long as he can remember, and it is truly one of his passions. Aside from writing film reviews, he is also a screenwriter. He’s written two shorts in the last year, one of which he plans to shoot in the spring of 2013. His favorite filmmakers are Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, Ingmar Bergman, Michael Haneke, and David Lynch – simply too many to list here.