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Only Human (Seres Queridos) - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}The husband and wife filmmaking team of Teresa De Pelegri and Dominic Harari confess to their obsession with what makes marriages work. They feel that the big issue of our day and time is "how to stay married without killing the person we're supposed to co-exist with." So, it only makes sense that the filmmakers would use the longstanding Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a backbone for their hilarious new film Only Human, about the peculiarities of relationships and how acceptance, not violence, leads to resolution. They craftily blend the social significance of today's international issues with their own themes of cohabitation and tolerance to create a dark little family comedy with plenty of wit and loads of smarts to boot.

The story begins when Jewish TV broadcaster Leni (Marian Aguilera) returns to her mother's Madrid home with her University lecturer fiancée, Rafi (Guillermo Toledo) in tow. Setting up the conflict of the story, Leni doesn't tell her somewhat neurotic but in a loving way mother Gloria (Norma Aleandro) that Rafi is Palestinian. Instead she tries to pass him off as Jewish. Their ruse works for the most part but once the cat's let out of the bag, actual beliefs and cultural stereotypes are bared in often-humorous ways. "Jews and Palestinians kill each other", Gloria blurts, despite the fact that she tries to align herself as the caring, loving mother.

Hoping to calm the aftermath of the shocking revelation, Rafi moves to the kitchen to help prepare the family meal, but only makes things worse when a block of frozen soup slips from his hands and falls out the open kitchen window. Realizing no one else saw his mishap, Rafi excuses himself to retrieve the soup, but is surprised to learn that it landed on the head of a man passing below their window... and he may be dead... and it may be Leni's late-arriving father!

Rounding out Leni's dysfunctional, but actually quite typical, family is her black sheep sister Tania (Maria Botto), who belly dances in local clubs while turning tricks, brother David (Fernando Ramallo), who has suddenly decided to become an ultra-Orthodox Jew and tapes the light switches in the off position so as not to use electricity on the Sabbath, his six year-old niece Paula (Alba Molinero) who walks around the house with a pillow stuffed under her blouse claiming she's pregnant even though she confesses to not knowing what a virgin is, and Dudu (Max Berliner), the senile 82 year-old deaf grandfather, who claims to have fought in the '48 and '56 Arab wars and carelessly wields a loaded rifle to prove his point.

Overcoming a huge risk, the filmmakers chose to set the film in Spain rather than in New York City where De Pelegri and Harari live and wrote the screenplay. Although the Jewish community in Madrid is quite small, they felt many of the story's themes and ideas were quite relevant to Spanish life. Bringing one's boyfriend home to mother is an important rite of passage to Spaniards, but even so, the film's themes of tolerance, acceptance and religious/cultural persecution ring true anywhere in the world. The film's message that "we're all the same" plays just as well in America as it would in the Middle East.

The joy in watching Only Human comes from the outrageous situational humor and perfectly delivered dialogue by talented actors having fun doing what they do. When poorly executed, farcical dark humor and slapstick can come off as mean or cruel - especially in a film that exposes so many cultural sensitivities. Not the case here. Although the outcome is a bit predictable, it's the joy of the ride that provides the delight.


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