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Kind Words

In the wake of their mother's death, three Jewish Israeli siblings discover that their biological father was a Muslim and set out on a journey across France to locate him in “The Kind Words.”

“The Kind Words” is well worth seeing. Just don’t expect any great revelations along the way or at the finale.

Screenwriter/director Shemi Zarhin gives us a look at a family that includes two brothers and a sister trying to unravel a mystery that affects all of them. With dialogue, awkward moments and clashes, the family dynamics are revealed.

Dorona (Rotem Zissman-Cohen) and her husband Ricki (Tsahi Halevi) after another miscarriage. She cannot bring herself to adopt a child, and feels the need to make a change. Her husband, meanwhile, patiently supports her and stays somewhat on the periphery of her life.

Brother Netanel (Roy Assaf) has become Orthodox and is raising a family with his wife. Shai (Assaf Ben-Shimon) is recovering from a recent break-up.

The three grown children are estranged from their father (Sasson Gabai), who reappears in their lives after a death in the family. He married a singer much younger than himself after he divorced their mother, and the adult children do not approve of this action nor do they want anything to do with the new wife.

The father shares something he has discovered about the family identity – something that profoundly affects all three siblings, who decide to set out on a journey to uncover the mystery behind what their father has told them. Much to Dorona’s displeasure, her husband – from whom she has separated – insists on making the journey with them.

What unfolds essentially is a subdued “road trip” movie, with the four travelers first traveling to Paris to visit their mother’s sister and then to Marseilles to learn more about their family.

The movie presents the depth of relationships – the bickering between the siblings themselves and the strained relationship all three have with their father and the wall of sadness that Dorona seems to have built between herself and her husband – realistically and always with a smidgen of humor.

This is a quiet film, moved along by dialogue that’s mostly soft-spoken, especially compared to what we’re used to experiencing in many American films.

Watching this talented cast interact is quite enjoyable. You’re bound to see traces of familiar real-life situations and conversations here. And, if you saw “The Farewell Party,” another film in this series, you’ll be delighted to see an actress from that film.

The movie can be frustrating, because it doesn’t shed enough light on a couple of questions. Still, watching the fine performances, being part of these moments with members of a family we grow to appreciate, and considering how we define our own identities, is thought-provoking and entertaining.

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