TIFF15 REVIEW: Bacon & God’s Wrath [2015]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 9 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Canada)
Director(s): Sol Friedman

“I prefer non-believer. Maybe infidel.”

I apologize to both my grandmothers because Razie Brownstone is my new hero. Kosher for 90 years of life, it was a journey through “the Google” by way of “the internet” that shook her faith. All the questions she never thought could be answered suddenly became available with a few keystrokes—sometimes Google even anticipated exactly what she wanted to ask. We’ve all fallen down rabbit holes of information overload and alternative opinions infiltrating our brains to cement themselves as core belief, but it’s something else to see nine decades of devout practice brought on by strict parents and even stricter grandparents simply disappear in an instant. With so many religions and such crazy reasons for things blindly held as gospel, how could she not take a step back? How could she not willfully try bacon for breakfast?

It’s a cute idea for a documentary and Sol Friedman cashes in on the simplicity of Razie’s endearing personality to make Bacon & God’s Wrath an enjoyable look at how quick we are to adhere to tradition without fully understanding the “why”? His subject is amazing—the definition of adorable and smart as a whip. She knows exactly what she’s doing and is fearless about the consequences. After all, how real could a punishment suffered by her great aunt at the hands of a town full of angry orthodox Jews be—a retribution too horrible to share—for something so small as eating a non-kosher item? Is bacon really so blasphemous if people devour it the world over? Is it worth worrying whether God will strike her down at her age anyway?

Beyond Razie’s intrinsic likeability, Friedman has fun with the proceedings by animating her history and bringing things like an electronic tablet and a boar’s head to life. Even the static shots of Razie relaying answers to his questions are done with intrigue by playfully filming her lying down. You’ll think the whole endeavor is something to laugh at going in with such senior citizen chestnuts as adding “the” to every unknown thing, but the truth is we actually laugh with her or not at all. Razie commands our respect and our attention, preaching a realization that faith and God might have no bearing on anything earthly at all. And when these thoughts come from a woman who’s lived a charmed life in Judaism’s good graces, its inspiring to see reason stop her rather than go on believing it’s been God’s doing and not hers all along.

Courtesy of TIFF

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