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April 13, 2022 10:46 am
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Mayim Bialik’s Directorial Debut Is a Sensational Success

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

Opinion

Photo: Storm Santos.

For her directorial debut, Mayim Bialik could have easily made a simple romantic comedy. Instead, “As They Made Us” is an emotionally gripping missile to your heart, that features outstanding acting, a tight script, and intimate direction that makes us yearn for Bialik’s next film.

Abigail’s father is dying, her mother is verbally abusive, and she has a fractured relationship with her brother, Nathan. She’s a divorced mother of two boys, a columnist for “Modern Jew,” and she is also involved in a budding romance with the gardener.

She says the “shema” with her boys before they go to sleep. We see a Hanukkah card on the fridge, a Jewish star on the kitchen door-window, and a chanukiah in the living room. She tries to get her brother, who has disconnected himself from the family, to reconcile with his father. Three of the four main actors are Jewish — Dianna Agron (of “Glee” fame and recently in “Shiva Baby”) is Abigail, and Nathan is played by Simon Helberg, who starred with Bialik on “The Big Bang Theory.” Dustin Hoffman plays Eugene, her father.

Agron knocks it out of the park, and this is her best role yet. Helberg is stellar as a young man who removes himself from the crucible of the family home after a confrontation with his father. Hoffman is brilliant as a man suffering from a degenerative condition, and Candace Bergen is hauntingly good as Abigail’s mother, Barb. Justin Chu Cary provides a breath of fresh air as Abigail’s love interest, Jay.

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To be sure, this film will not be everyone’s cup of tea — it is dark and serious, aside from being funny. If you are a person who thinks about family, your hopes and dreams, the crucial decisions we make, and how we are only visitors on this planet for a short time, then this film is most certainly for you.

The film’s title — and the film itself — asks a tough question: is the way we treat people and our mindset the creation of our parents, something of our own conjuring, or a combination of both?

I would have liked to see one of Abigail’s articles, as well as her editor in the film, and more of her ex-husband, Peter (played by Charlie Weber of ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder”).

Bialik, the “Jeopardy” host and star of Fox’s “Call Me Kat,” also wrote and produced this film, which makes for an outstanding debut.

The author is a writer living in New York.

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