Maxime Giroux's Félix and Meira is an incredibly mature and elegant romantic story about two individuals who couldn't be more different. Meira, a Hasidic Jewish wife and mother, is trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for semblance of her own identity under the repressive regime of her husband and religion. Felix is a loner and directionless individual, who is recently dealing with the death of his father. While these two individuals are from completely different worlds they live only blocks away from one and other, leading to a chance encounter in a small bakery. What at first starts as a friendship soon enough becomes more, forcing Meira to confront her own feelings about what she truly wants. A film about self discovery, Félix and Meira paints a portrait of longing in two individuals that is poignant and profound. This is a film that doesn't paint a paricularly kind portrait of Hasidic Judaism, capturing how woman are oppressed in this culture, losing their own identity and essentially being viewed as property. The scenes early on in the film are hard to watch, feeling almost like a horror film for the viewer, which sees Meira lock herself in the bathroom just to feel a moment of peace from the constant demands of this strict regime. That being said, Félix and Meira wisely never demonizes the husband, presenting him as a man who does care deeply for his wife but also for his religion. It almost feels like out of respect to this charcter, the filmmakers never actually show Felix and Meira in their intimacy, a fascinating and mature decision. The film itself really doesnt demonize religion either, more speaking to Meira's need to discover what makes her happy. The reason the romance that unfolds between Félix and Meira works so well is because the film takes its time, fully developing each character individually, which makes their romance feel so much more organic. It becomes clear that while these two individuals couldn't be more different on the surface, they each have dealt with a similar type of oppression. While Meira's oppression is the driving force of the film, Félix's is beautifully understated, being a man who was raised by a mentally abusive father who chastised him from an early age. Featuring strong central performances, Maxime Giroux's Félix and Meira is a touching romance of two individuals discovering themselves through each other.
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