In Quebec, the term “two solitudes” once described icy/cozy relations between the English and French. But in Maxime Giroux’s sublime “Felix and Meira,” which closes out this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, the phrase seems apt for the Hasidim and hipsters of Montreal’s happening Mile End neighborhood, coexisting without actually engaging.
The film’s title characters cross those lines — and many more — in Giroux’s wintry film, whose acute sense of place registers as strongly as his finely drawn characters. Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize Hadas Yaron, who plays the rebellious Orthodox wife Meira; in Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void,” another frum drama, she played another Orthodox woman facing difficult choices.
“Felix and Meira” won Best Canadian Feature honors at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival; it opens wide in May. The Forward caught up with director Giroux as he shuttled between meetings in Old Montreal.
Michael Kaminer: What kind of research did you do in Montreal’s Orthodox community, which seems highly insular?