Emotional Arithmetic

Synopsis: Semi-retired university professor David Winters and his wife and former student Melanie Winters née Lansing live on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec with their adult son Benjamin Winters and Benjamin's son, Timothy Winters. Their life is not totally harmonious due to David's chronic infidelity and Melanie's emotional instability, a result in large part of her growing up which she refuses to speak of to Benjamin, who knows nothing of his mother's childhood directly from her. Melanie has been institutionalized many times in her life and is on medication to deal with her mental issues. Melanie's passion in life is to follow many cases of political oppression in the world, this passion again due to her past life. In September 1985, Melanie, through this work, reconnects with Jakob Bronski who she knew during World War II when she was only a teenager when they were both interred at Drancy, a transit station outside of Paris where the government, in cooperation with the Nazis,
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Paolo Barzman
Production: Prorom Media-Trade
  7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

"If you ask me, do I believe in God?

" Forgive me if I answer,

'Does God believe in me? '"









Derndel. Derndel.



Dinner's ready!

Dinner's ready.



Storm coming.

Not that anyone listens, but I warned them.

- Hi, Mom.

- Excuse me, you forgot something.

- Good morning, Mom.

- Good morning, sweetie.

Have you seen your father around?

He's gone into town.

He had a lunch at the university, remember?

No, he didn't tell me.


I wonder which of his fawning grad

students the old goat is f***ing this time.

Mom, please.

Oh, Benjamin. Benjamin, I'm sorry.

You're always caught right between

the crazy b*tch and a moral bankrupt.

It's not fair. I'm really sorry, sweetie.


You look great.

- Really?

- Well, actually, Mom, I...

What is the thing that you like

most about me today? Hmm?

- I can't decide with my eyes closed.

- Oh, yes, you can.

Your wicked tongue.

Very good.

Oh, my God.

It's Jakob. It's my Jakob.

He answered my letter.

"Melanie. Yes, the Jakob Bronski

"you read about is the man you think.

" I am your Jakob, as you say.

To my surprise, I am still alive.

" Older than the man you once knew,

but I cannot imagine not seeing again

"my little American girl from Cleveland."

Jakob, Jakob. She's American.

She's from a place called Cleveland.

- And does the American have a name?

- Melanie Lansing.

How do you do, Melanie?

I am Jakob Bronski from...

Well, too many places to mention.

I hope we both live one week more,

so you can teach me

to speak real American English, huh?

That woman is not supposed to be driving,

not with the medication she's taking.

Okay. Jesus, be careful! This is an antique.

Now lift it up, can you?

What's the matter,

are you a weakling or something?

- Is that high enough?

- That's better.

Thank you.

You're doing great. Yeah.

There, there!

- You okay?

- Of course I'm okay.

We can take a break. We're not in a hurry.

No. No, that's good here.

Mom loves the spot over there.

She thought it would make it feel more like

a celebration on Jakob's first night.

All right.

- How long is he going to stay?

- I don't know any more than you do.

It's typical. She hasn't seen the man

since she was a kid,

they exchange a couple of letters,

and she invites the stranger into our home.

I mean, he could have, God knows,

all kinds of medical problems,

not to mention his mental condition.

He sounded fine in the letters.

Besides, he's not a total stranger.

Thirty-five years in the Gulag,

he's a stranger, trust me.

It'll be good for her, Dad.

- Dr. Levin said...

- Don't you " Dr. Levin" me.

Dr. Levin and his good intentions.

Nothing I hate more than good intentions.




Oh, my gosh, you are a giant.

I wasn't sure if I just made that up or,

or what.

Oh, my. What happened to your hand?

Oh, long ago.

It's nothing. Punishment for stealing food.

- Does it frighten you?

- No, no.


It's been so long.

Yes. I brought you a present.



Hello, Melanie.

I would have recognized you anywhere.

- What are you doing here?

- Well, I heard that Jakob Bronski,

Poet of the Gulag, had been freed.

I contacted him in Paris.

I decided to come with him,

spur of the moment kind of thing.

I hope I'm not unwelcome.

I don't know what to say.

Your hair is, it's redder than I remember.

Well, you look different, too.

- It suits you.

- Thank you.

Chit-chat later. Come on.

- How is it now?

- Oh...




Masterly done.

Just in time.

- Who the hell's that?

- I don't know.

Looks like your mother picked up a stray.

Here, let me help you, come.

Mr. Bronski.

Jakob, please.

No, don't worry, don't worry.

David Winters. Welcome.

Thank you.

This is Christopher. Christopher Lewis.

Well, well. The legendary Christopher Lewis.

I was beginning to think you were just

a figment of Melanie's imagination.

I hope I'm not intruding.

- Of course not. You're most welcome.

- Thank you.

Oh, and this is Benjamin. Our son.

- Welcome.

- Thank you.

- Nice to meet you, Benjamin.

- Nice to meet you, too.

- You live in a paradise.

- Just don't look too closely. It's a money pit.

Damn place is falling about our ears.

Interesting looking beasts.

- Do you milk them?

- Hardly. They're boy cows.

We just fatten them up

and sell them for slaughter.

Maybe we could put Christopher

in the guest house.

It's a good idea.

I'll just settle you in. Is this all you brought?

Yes. I'm afraid I can't stay.

I just can't believe that you're all here.

- I never thought I'd see you again.

- I'm finished!


Ah, my son. Timmy.


And what exactly did you finish, Timmy?

The carrots, I peeled them all.

So you're the man in charge of food, huh?

So we're saved.

Well, shall we?

- Here, Mom, let me take this.

- Oh, thanks.

- Are they the Russians?

- Kind of.

- Would you like to see the lake?

- Yes.

- Do you think he knows how to swim?

- I'm sure he does.

- Where are your parents?

- When I came home

they were gone and then I was taken here.

What about your parents?

You see?

It's magic.

You are now officially

one of God's chosen people.


Chosen for what, you ask?

An interesting question.

His father was always running

after the authorities, questioning everyone.

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Matt Cohen

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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