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Questioning Orthodoxy, and Trying Blue Jeans

A scene from Maxime Giroux’s Felix and Meira, out this month in the U.S.

Stephanie Butnick
April 13, 2015
Hadas Yaron and Martin Dubreuil in 'Felix and Meira.' (© Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Hadas Yaron and Martin Dubreuil in ‘Felix and Meira.’ (© Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Canadian director Maxime Giroux’s 2014 film Felix and Meira, which premieres April 17 in U.S. theaters, follows a young Orthodox wife and mother as she questions her commitment to her tight-knit Montreal community after a chance meeting with an outsider develops into a relationship. The film stars Hadas Yaron as Meira, Luzer Twersky as her husband Shulem, and Martin Dubreuil as Felix, a fractured stranger who acts as Meira’s introduction to the wider world.

Yaron starred in last year’s Fill the Void, an Israeli film Yair Rosenberg described as “Jane Austen for Jews,” as Shira Mendelman, a young Hasidic woman in Tel Aviv asked to marry her older sister’s husband after she dies suddenly.

Twersky was the subject of an audio documentary published by Tablet in 2010, which detailed his own complex journey out of Orthodoxy. His role in this film, naturally, deals with similar issues.

“There are certain emotional elements of that life that I miss, the sense of belonging,” Twersky told the New York Times this month. “But it brought up all the conflict in me. I’m playing the character that my ex-wife played in the movie of my life.”

Here’s an exclusive clip from the film, in which Yaron’s Meira, in a hotel room with Felix, tries on a pair of jeans for the first time. It’s a symbol of her breaking away from her Orthodox world and its modesty dictates, and an act that in reality too is quite fraught for observant women.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.