Review: ‘Miriam’

Exploitation director Matt Cimber turns his attention to more serious subjects in "Miriam," a Los Angeles-lensed WWII drama based on a true story. Low-budget pic marks the screen debut of Telly Savalas' daughter Ariana. Despite troubling sexual themes, this remarkable, albeit unpolished, personal history may prove appropriate for religious or teaching purposes.

Exploitation director Matt Cimber turns his attention to more serious subjects in “Miriam,” a Los Angeles-lensed WWII drama based on a true story. Low-budget pic marks the screen debut of Telly Savalas’ daughter Ariana (Cimber also has the distinction of having “discovered” Pia Zadora years earlier). In Savalas, Cimber has found an 18-year-old actress with the soulful qualities, if not quite the gravitas, of a young Kate Winslet, and her earnest performance helps transcend the meagerness of the production. Despite troubling sexual themes (while in hiding, Miriam is raped by her protector), this remarkable, albeit unpolished, personal history may prove appropriate for religious or teaching purposes.

Although Miriam Schafer didn’t keep a diary like Anne Frank, her experiences provide the valuable perspective of a 14-year-old Jewish girl whose Aryan looks allowed her to survive WWII in Lithuania disguised as a Christian. But Schafer’s story (intercut with oncamera interviews) didn’t end when the war did; her struggle against Soviet anti-Semitism continued. Savalas plays Schafer from teen to a woman in her 50s, when Schafer keeps her true identity hidden from her KGB husband (Dimitri Diatchencko) and misbegotten daughter (Olga Vilner). Such a touching story warrants retelling with better resources.

Miriam

Production

A Miriam Prods. production. Produced by Matt Cimber. Executive producer, Max Guefen. Directed by Matt Cimber. Screenplay, John Goff, Cimber.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), River O'Mahoney Hagg; editor, Olof Kallstrom; music, Peter Bernstein; art director, Samantha Summers. Reviewed at Fine Arts Theater, Los Angeles, Nov. 4, 2006. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Ariana Savalas, Addi Kaplan, Shelly Kurtz, Beata Pozniak, Peter J. Lucas, Dimitri Diatchencko, Olga Vilner, Nina Franoszek.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading