CINEMA: Fabius Burger
Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and recipient of the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival, Leon the Pig Farmer has a lot to live up to. Luckily, it’s a funny movie. The plot’s about a mix-up: Leon Geller (Mark Frankel), a nice Jewish boy with a compulsion about honesty, discovers his Jewish dad had a low sperm count and his real sperm-dad, as it were, is a pig farmer.
Director Vadim Jean calls this the first Jewish comedy feature to come out of Britain, although I thought Carol Reed’s film of A Kid for Two Farthings, Wolf Man-kowitz’s novel about a child in Petticoat Lane, was also a Jewish comedy. Perhaps one shouldn’t try too hard to label it because the point of Leon the Pig Farmer is that we’re all human and the rest is just manners and customs.
You could say the film’s about biology and culture — perhaps that’s why it won all those awards. But it’s also pretty sharp and satirical, with the sort of eccentric, funny character studies (“heroes, anti-heroes and fantastical people”, says Jean) at which British movies excel. All the characters — even the sex interest, Leon’s girlfriend (Maryan D’Abo) — are very real.
At the end there are cultural, religious or ethnic interchanges as Leon’s pig-farmer dad learns to be Jewish and Leon’s other family learns to be … non-Jewish?
So maybe, instead of a Jewish comedy, one should call it a rainbow comedy that everyone can enjoy.