In Mariana Chenillo’s “Nora’s Will,” the marvelous Mexican actor Fernando Luján plays the bearded, bellicose José, who has been divorced from his wife, Nora, for many years although he continues to live nearby. When she finally succeeds in killing herself, after numerous attempts over the years, he finds himself in charge of carrying out her funeral arrangements.
I should state upfront that this is a comedy, and a pretty good one, too.
As an Orthodox Jew, and with Passover fast approaching, Nora’s wishes are required to be carried out according to Jewish custom. The ornery José, an atheist, bridles at the ritual. In an apartment filled with Orthodox worshipers, he orders a pizza “with ham, bacon, and sausage.” He buys a crucifix-shaped coffin and, perhaps worst of all, gets rid of Nora’s cat.
Chenillo doesn’t have a galvanic visual style but her film is filled with small, observant moments when the humanity of these people peeps through the low-key shenanigans. It’s a bittersweet farce. Grade: B (Unrated.)
More Monitor movie reviews: