"The Farewell Party" is an often-amusing and particularly poignant look at the perils of old age. Specifically touched upon is the right of an individual to choose to die when faced with unbearable pain, or a dread disease, with no hope of recovery.


Though this is a universal question, filmmakers Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit have chosen a retirement community in Jerusalem for their setting. When Yehezkel (Ze'ev Revach), an inventor/tinker, is asked by his best friend Max (Shmuel Wolf) to help him end his life, Yehezkel's wife, Levana (Levana Finkelstein), is appalled and dead set against the idea.


Max's wife, Yana (Aliza Rosen) pleads his case, and with assistance from the new guy in the hood, a retired veterinarian, Raffi Segal (Rafael Tabor) and Dr. Daniel (Ilan Dar), this motley crew devises a plan to fulfill Max's wish.


"The Farewell Party" is exactly the wonderful little film that I have always loved. Writers/directors Maymon and Granit have penned a marvelous script full of humor and pathos --- then selected a celebrated cast, including comedic actors, to bring this moving tale to life.


There are a few delightful twists and turns to the screenplay, and also a very sad aspect which further promotes the need for the discussion of legalized euthanasia. My only complaint with "The Farewell Party" is the somewhat hurried conclusion.


I would have appreciated more time spent on this courageous group's last act of mercy. But this does not deter from my complete enjoyment of "The Farewell Party".


Opinion: See It Now!




Last year's "Still Alice", featuring Julianne Moore's shattering, Oscar-winning performance, will probably be the quintessential film dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, at least for the time being. But a new movie, appropriately titled "The Farewell Party", sheds an equally realistic light on the subject. Israeli filmmakers Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit, who also co-wrote the screenplay, have made what you could call a depressingly funny --- or comically depressing --- movie about the ravages of old age on the mind and body, and the devastating decisions many of us will face.


The cast is made up of older comedians/actors who are well known in Israel, most with prolific resumes. Thanks to their comic training and timing, "The Farewell Party" manages to make us laugh amid dire circumstances, yet the film is a serious reminder that Alzheimer's is no laughing matter.


The five main characters reside in a Jerusalem retirement home. When Yehezkel (Ze'ev Revach), an amateur inventor, learns bed-ridden friend Max (Shmuel Wolf) wants to end his own life, he constructs a machine that allows anyone to self-administer a lethal tranquilizer. Dr. Kevorkian would approve --- in fact his name is invoked in the script.


Conflicts arise when word spreads of Yehezkel's device, and grave complications surface as Yehezkel's wife Levana (Levana Finkelstein), shows signs of Alzheimer's. Levana returns to their room and puts her purse in the freezer, and later parades naked through the facility's dining area. Yehezkel agonizingly realizes that his spouse can no longer live in their current situation. Ironically, it is Levana who, originally, most strenuously objects to the euthanasia the group has planned.


A nominee in many categories for Israel's version of the Academy Awards, "The Farewell Party" is well crafted and superbly acted. Like "Still Alice", it will resonate with moviegoers because we can all empathize with its storyline.


Opinion: See It Now!