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In this film, a rabbi from Buenos Aires hits the road in Taiwan to raise money for his community center.
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A rabbi from Buenos Aires pounds the pavement to raise money for his community center in “Shalom Taiwan,” a film whose meager plot could use a bit of a boost itself. After finding little support on a fund-raising trip to New York, Rabbi Aaron (Fabián Rosenthal) ventures out to Taiwan on a hunch, and routine culture-clash content and sightseeing montages ensue.
The story, partly by design, is a series of anticlimactic encounters, as Rabbi Aaron pitches the merits of his newly renovated center to prospective donors. One meeting in Taipei takes place on the careening rides of an amusement park, another among verdant tea groves in the serenity of the countryside.
Rabbi Aaron’s good-natured wife (Mercedes Funes) grows impatient with his absences, and the ticktock plot keeps checking in with the community center as it faces takeover by a creditor. The rabbi’s milquetoast assistant is in charge during his travels, but the film’s director, Walter Tejblum, doesn’t do much with that or other potentially humorous (or dramatic) setups. Rosenthal’s balky presence and Tejblum’s indifferent direction together ward off a sense of urgency or deep engagement.
Rabbi Aaron finds a kindly soul in a Spanish-speaking clerk (Sebastián Hsu) at the capsule hotel where he’s staying, and the movie coasts to an ending about accepting life’s vicissitudes and moving on. It’s hard to argue with that message, but one doesn’t have to accept the ho-hum experience of watching this movie.
Shalom Taiwan
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Rent or buy on Amazon, Apple TV and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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