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Cat mitzvah

The Rabbi’s Cat is so gorgeously rendered, unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk.
The Rabbi’s Cat is so gorgeously rendered, unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk.
Movie

Rabbi's Cat <em>(Le chat du rabbin)</em> **

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A shaggy dog story about a nearly hairless cat in 1920s Algiers. He serves his master the rabbi, but he loves his mistress, the rabbi’s fleshy daughter. When he eats the family parrot and so gains the power of speech, he seizes the opportunity to begin pitching woo. The rabbi will have none of it, so the cat proposes converting to Judaism in order to take off the curse. But the rabbi’s rabbi won’t grant the cat a bar mitzvah, not so much because of the cat’s sophisticated, skeptical theology but because he’s, well, a cat. It’s a sharp setup, and so gorgeously rendered that religious folk shouldn’t mind playing along with the sacrileges, and unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk. But once the setup is seen to, the story splays out in all directions, and by the time the cat has ditched his beloved and joined the rabbi and a couple of Russians on a quest to locate a fabled city of Ethiopian Jews, the viewer may begin to wonder what exactly is going on. Something to do with the things that unite and divide us, be they religion, language, or art. Something else to do with the primacy of decency over devotion, and of eros over all.

Find showtimes

A shaggy dog story about a nearly hairless cat in 1920s Algiers. He serves his master the rabbi, but he loves his mistress, the rabbi’s fleshy daughter. When he eats the family parrot and so gains the power of speech, he seizes the opportunity to begin pitching woo. The rabbi will have none of it, so the cat proposes converting to Judaism in order to take off the curse. But the rabbi’s rabbi — a suspicious, hardline sort of Jew — won’t grant the cat a bar mitzvah, not so much because of the cat’s sophisticated, skeptical theology but because he’s, well, a cat.

It’s a sharp setup, and so gorgeously rendered that religious folk shouldn’t mind playing along with the gentle sacrileges, and unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk. Joann Sfar, who codirected and cowrote the film, also produced the graphic novels that serve as source material, and his style reads like a more detailed, earthier version of Herge’s Tintin. (Perhaps sensing this, the writers include a cameo from the famed boy reporter and present him as a condescending twit.)

But once the setup is seen to, the story splays out in all directions, and by the time the cat has ditched his beloved and joined the rabbi and a couple of Russians on a quest to locate a fabled city of Ethiopian Jews, the viewer may begin to wonder what exactly is going on. Something to do with the things that unite and divide us, be it religion, language, or art. (In general, the film posits that the more intensely religious you are, the less you will appreciate graven images, er, artistic beauty.) Something else to do with the primacy of decency over devotion, and of eros over all — even the rabbi’s rabbi rhapsodizes about God like he’s the lover in the Song of Solomon.

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The Rabbi’s Cat is so gorgeously rendered, unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk.
The Rabbi’s Cat is so gorgeously rendered, unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk.
Movie

Rabbi's Cat <em>(Le chat du rabbin)</em> **

thumbnail

A shaggy dog story about a nearly hairless cat in 1920s Algiers. He serves his master the rabbi, but he loves his mistress, the rabbi’s fleshy daughter. When he eats the family parrot and so gains the power of speech, he seizes the opportunity to begin pitching woo. The rabbi will have none of it, so the cat proposes converting to Judaism in order to take off the curse. But the rabbi’s rabbi won’t grant the cat a bar mitzvah, not so much because of the cat’s sophisticated, skeptical theology but because he’s, well, a cat. It’s a sharp setup, and so gorgeously rendered that religious folk shouldn’t mind playing along with the sacrileges, and unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk. But once the setup is seen to, the story splays out in all directions, and by the time the cat has ditched his beloved and joined the rabbi and a couple of Russians on a quest to locate a fabled city of Ethiopian Jews, the viewer may begin to wonder what exactly is going on. Something to do with the things that unite and divide us, be they religion, language, or art. Something else to do with the primacy of decency over devotion, and of eros over all.

Find showtimes

A shaggy dog story about a nearly hairless cat in 1920s Algiers. He serves his master the rabbi, but he loves his mistress, the rabbi’s fleshy daughter. When he eats the family parrot and so gains the power of speech, he seizes the opportunity to begin pitching woo. The rabbi will have none of it, so the cat proposes converting to Judaism in order to take off the curse. But the rabbi’s rabbi — a suspicious, hardline sort of Jew — won’t grant the cat a bar mitzvah, not so much because of the cat’s sophisticated, skeptical theology but because he’s, well, a cat.

It’s a sharp setup, and so gorgeously rendered that religious folk shouldn’t mind playing along with the gentle sacrileges, and unbelievers shouldn’t mind listening to all the God talk. Joann Sfar, who codirected and cowrote the film, also produced the graphic novels that serve as source material, and his style reads like a more detailed, earthier version of Herge’s Tintin. (Perhaps sensing this, the writers include a cameo from the famed boy reporter and present him as a condescending twit.)

But once the setup is seen to, the story splays out in all directions, and by the time the cat has ditched his beloved and joined the rabbi and a couple of Russians on a quest to locate a fabled city of Ethiopian Jews, the viewer may begin to wonder what exactly is going on. Something to do with the things that unite and divide us, be it religion, language, or art. (In general, the film posits that the more intensely religious you are, the less you will appreciate graven images, er, artistic beauty.) Something else to do with the primacy of decency over devotion, and of eros over all — even the rabbi’s rabbi rhapsodizes about God like he’s the lover in the Song of Solomon.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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