Enemies, a Love Story
Time Out saysThe war is over, but for Herman (Silver) conflict continues. It's New York, 1949; Herman is an educated Jew married to the gentile peasant girl (Stein) who saved him from the Nazis. Life gets complicated. He's carrying on a turbulent affair with Masha (Olin), a deeply troubled survivor of the camps. Enter his first wife Tamara (Huston), long presumed dead. 'Ten enemies can't harm a man as much as he can harm himself': in itsreference to the Yiddish saying, Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel sums up Herman's predicament. A 'fatalistic hedonist' makes for a seemingly unsympathetic lead character, but in this intelligent adaptation, Mazursky (co-scripting with Roger L Simon) conveys emotion without manipulation, sensitively distilling despair and self-hatred, but lifting the mood with dark humour. Philosophical issues are brought into focus rather than generated by the Holocaust, and are examined within the realm of relationships rather than intellectual debate. The performances (from Lena Olin in particular) are perfectly suited to the mood, while period is beautifully evoked in subdued tones and subtly lit interiors.