Life with Movies and Maxxxxx Blog
A LIGHT FOR GREYTOWERS (dir. Robin Garbose, USA, 2007, 93 mins.) The festival is featuring one of the most peculiar and invention films you will see at this, or any other year. A LIGHT FOR GREYTOWERS, is a musical comedy directed by Robin Garbose, and is the first theatrical release by Kol Neshama, an all-female performing arts conservatory. The film unashamedly, if not proudly, relies on the musical theater constructs that Disney (if not Charles Dickens) has perfected. A young girl of orthodox Jewish background, finds herself in a Victorian England orphanage, and… well, hilarity, self affirmation and reunion ensue! Now, if you are NOT of the musical-theater inclined, you’ll probably hate this. But I LOVED this! The performances are duly large and there is an unassuming innocence that treads perilously close to “cute”, without falling into that. The production values and particularly the orchestrations are surprisingly polished! (The soundtrack is recorded and available from various sources!)
The film is nearly dominated by Judy Winegard’s fabulous performance as the SEVERE orphanage mistress, Miss Grimshaw! Her diction and physicality are economical and tread perilously to the line of stagebound overacting, but Winegard, under Garbose’s direction, keeps her characterization within cinematic boundaries. Also to Winegard’s credit, she keeps from succumbing to the temptation of becoming another “Miss Hannigan” rip-off. Abby Shapiro as the orphan, Miriam Aronowitch, is obviously inexperienced, yet her performance naivete actually balances against the professional and (theatrically justifiable) hamming that surrounds her. However, in a position of “armchair directing”, I would suggest a bit more post-production and with some judicious editing, correct some of Shapiro’s faulty timing, as well as delete or wipe out some of the camera glances that the entire cast make. There are also standout musical numbers by supporting cast, however I am unable to find available production notes with which to credit them. (Note to producers: PLEASE post on IMDB! Or make a press kit available!)
As a note that did concern me for a moment, the film’s producers advise “the film adheres to traditional Jewish values of modesty and is intended for female audiences only. Appropriate for ages 8 and up.” Now, I don’t know whether that is tongue-in-cheek, and I even checked with the festival organizers, but it is safe to say that its intended audience IS young girls, though I doubt that males will be turned away.