Family Law

Runs at Varsity, Fri., Jan. 26–Thurs., Feb. 1. Not rated. 102 minutes.

Unlike his intensely committed and colorful lawyer father, Ariel Perelman (a deadpan Daniel Hendler) is anal, inexpressive, becalmed in a dull job, and unsure of his place in life. Forced to loosen up a little when he snags a lively, beautiful wife he thought was out of his league and becomes a parent, Ariel is further unsettled when his father comes to him with a proposition. On paper, Family Law follows the familiar arc of domestic trouble and redemption. On-screen, it's a visually puckish, tragicomic celebration of an unassuming man's unsung goodness that broadens, like Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burman's other movies, into a meditation on secular-Jewish identity in a less-than-tolerant society. Like his equally father-fixated, and equally wonderful, 2003 film, Lost Embrace, Burman's beguiling tribute to his Jewish father—or, for all I know, the one he wishes he had—is warm and deep enough to give humanism a good name. ELLA TAYLOR

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