Direction, acting and a well written script are the three things that are needed to win over an audience with a comedy about a serious subject. With Mr. Kaplan the cast and crew connect in a big way taking the plot that involves Nazis on the run and turning it into a comical jaunt. It’s the personalities that make it a good show and this script has some doozies.
Closing in on his twilight of life at 76 and living in Uruguay, S.A., Yankele “Jacob” Kaplan (Héctor Noguera) has come to the realization that he’s never done something special before leaving this Earth. At his bar mitzvah to given name Jacob was an honor to receive, because it meant that he would be known for a good deed. He has almost given up on the thought when his granddaughter Lottie (Nuria Flo) mentions that during her recent trip to the shore she went to a beach bar with her friends who said it was owned by a Nazi. Of course he was taken aback when he heard this even though it was the 1990’s. After all Nazi hunting was passé as most of the notorious had been rounded up by now.
But, he thought no this is the good deed he needed to fulfill his lifelong dream. Having recently lost his driver’s license due to a fender bender, he takes a bus to the shore. After convincing himself that the man who calls himself Julius Reich (Rolf Becker) is indeed a Nazi, he solicits Wilson (Néstor Guzzini), a friend of the family, to go in with him on the project. They will 1. Capture Him, 2. Guard Him, and 3. Transfer him to Israel for trial as a Nazi. When things start getting dicey however, the two find themselves trapped in their own scandalous plot.
Director Álvaro Brechner works the comedy well taking elderly and strong-minded Jacob into the world of spying. He gives his audience just enough background on all the players that include his two sons, their wives, his granddaughter and wife Rebecca (Nidia Telles) all of which have idiosyncrasies of their own. He uses the family ‘playground’ to show how desperate Jacob is to accomplish his namesake bar mitzvah right and confirm to them his life has meaning.
Filmed in Brechner’s hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay he makes use of the town, its people and scenic shore. His two main characters are from South America with Néstor Guzzini a native of Uruguay. While Héctor Noguera plays this old determined man on the edge of dementia his counterpart Guzzini is in his thirties nearly bald and overweight. The two have a lot of comedic energy together scrapping over the plan and what role each has in bringing the Nazi down.
The film also has a serious tone with elderly Jacob finding himself losing the right to drive thus becoming dependent. It’s something that really bothers him even though his family gives him the support. His sons are disturbed over his life changes and his wife treats her husband with motherly advice. There’s also the deed that Jacob’s hell bent on completing, one that has sadness and revenge tantamount to the holocaust.
Mr. Kaplan has been not been rated by the MPAA, but contains language and minor violence. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely laid plot with equal shares of comedy and drama. (B+)
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Héctor Noguera, Néstor Guzzini, Nidia Telles, Nuria Flo, Rolf Becker, Gustavo Saffores, and Hugo Piccinini
Directed by: Álvaro Brechner
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Foreign, Spanish Language
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains language, peril and minor violence
Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min
Release Date: March 20, 2015
Distributed by: Menemsha Films