Starring: Fernando Luján, Enrique Arreola, Ari Brickman
Directed by: Mariana Chenillo (debut)
Written by: Mariana Chenillo (debut)

Nora Kurtz’s death comes as no surprise to anyone in “Nora’s Will,” the award-winning debut film by director/writer Mariana Chenillo.

After 14 failed attempts at suicide throughout her life, Nora finally gets it right when she overdoses on pills on the eve of Passover. Her scheduled demise comes with a handful of problems, all of which land on the shoulders of her ex-husband José (Fernando Luján).

Divorced for 20 years, José still lives across the street from his ex-wife. The responsibility to plan her Jewish wake and burial come as an annoyance to José, who is not so fond of the religion’s strict funeral customs. José is actually an atheist, so anything resembling a religious rituals is not something he wants to be a part of. When news of Nora’s death spreads, rabbis begin to make their move inside her home to prepare for the ceremony. José shows his gratitude by ordering sausage and ham pizza for dinner.

Sarcasm aside, José finds himself bothered even more when he stumbles across a photo of Nora and another man taken during the time when they were still married. Interested in finding out the man’s identity, José begins to snoop around the house as family members and rabbis continue to arrive. What secrets had his wife been keeping all these years?

First released in Mexico in 2008, the charming and lighthearted “Nora’s Will” has since worked its way around the festival circuit garnering a number of awards, especially for director Chenillo and lead actor Luján who commands the screen with his soft eyes and playful humor.

The film is subtle in tone and wit and Chenillo knows exactly what buttons to press to make the characters perform in the limited space and time she has given them. The little nuances are what count in “Nora’s Will” more than anything. Appreciate the understated ways each character copes with grief and the delicate emotions should carry you to the bittersweet end.

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