Deeply buried Holocaust guilt bubbles to the surface when a budding writer takes his pregnant g.f. to his father's house for Yom Kippur.

Despite its rather whimsical title, “Tickling Leo” is anything but a lighthearted romp. Amid the autumnal glory of the Catskills, deeply buried Holocaust guilt bubbles to the surface when a budding writer takes his pregnant g.f. to his father’s house for Yom Kippur. Although immersed in nature, this somber first outing from actor-turned-helmer/scripter Jeremiah Davidson feels theatrical in its setup and oratorical rhythms. A radiant perf by Annie Parisse and a virtuoso turn by Eli Wallach are insufficient to lift this male intergenerational angst-fest out of the ghetto. “Leo” bowed Sept. 4 at Gotham’s Quad Cinema.

The film reps a fictional variation on the true story of Rudolph Kastzner, who arranged with Adolf Eichmann to ransom some 1,600 Hungarian Jews in exchange for money and silence about the concentration camps. The legacy of that morally murky decision has haunted the pic’s Pikler family for generations, as they work their way through paranoid senility, delusions of grandeur, lies, confusion and huge helpings of denial — all served up half-digested to the unsuspecting g.f. of the family’s youngest member, Zak, on the Day of Atonement; she, lucky girl, was adopted.

Tickling Leo

Production

A Barn Door Pictures release of a Barn Door Pictures production in association with Highbrow Entertainment. Produced by Jeremy Davidson, Mary Stuart Masterson, Peter Masterson, Steven Weisman, Paul Schnee. Co-producer, Maria Elena Lopez-Frank. Directed, written by Jeremy Davidson.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Peter Masterson, editor, Kate Eales; music, Abe Korzeniowski; production designer, David Stein; costume designer, Oliera Gajic. Reviewed at Dolby screening room, New York, Aug. 19, 2009. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Eli Wallach, Lawrence Pressman, Daniel Sauli, Annie Parisse, Ronald Guttman, Victoria Clark.
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