Oys and girls

Renee Zellweger makes a convincing Jewish feminist rebel in A Price Above Rubies

Truthfully, Zellweger's New York Jewishness fades in and out, but the simple honesty of her conviction does not. (Just remember that Melanie Griffith played a Jewish woman in Sidney Lumet's A Stranger Among Us, and Texan Zellweger doesn't seem like such a stretch.) Good as she was in The Whole Wide World and Jerry Maguire, both were essentially reactive roles she rescued by adding emotional range to her soft-spoken girlishness--she was Patricia Arquette with expressive eyes. A Price Above Rubies sends her on an arduous journey that requires a wide and sometimes conflicted variety of feelings, and Zellweger, along with the superb Eccleston as her lover and the haunted-eyed Glenn Fitzgerald as her husband, expresses them all in just the right places.

A Price Above Rubies may strike some viewers as farfetched. We're used to movies about ethnic urban neighborhoods having a grainy, shaky-camera documentary look, and Boaz Yakin bravely goes for an eerier, more elevated feel for his second film. Bravest of all was his decision to treat the lead character like a person first, a woman second. It grounds the movie in a measured intelligence that makes the film's profound themes feel authentic. This is one "adult fable" whose lessons you'll be processing long after the credits roll.

A Price Above Rubies.
Directed and written by Boaz Yakin. Starring Renee Zellweger, Glenn Fitzgerald, Christopher Eccleston, and Julianna Margulies. Opens Friday.

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