“Félix and Meira” gets under your skin. A behind-closed-doors romance in the vein of “Madame Bovary” and “Anna Karenina,” Canadian director Maxime Giroux’s film is set in the Hasidic Jewish world of Montreal’s Mile End district, where a young orthodox mother (Israeli actress Hadas Yaron) falls for an atheist loner (Martin Dubreuil) grieving the death of his father.
A self-described atheist, Giroux was inspired to make the film after living in this neighborhood and seeing how difficult Jewish life was for women. “It’s way more difficult for women to leave the community without their children,” he told me. “We ask so much of our women in every society. For men, it’s so easy. We have children, get divorced, go away and take care of those children but not too much. For these women, being a good mother is their role. Yes, they can have their own personality but if you don’t make children, if you decide to do something else, nobody will talk to you.”
That makes three foreign Oscar entries for Oscilloscope, which released “Felix,” “The Second Mother” and will open Colombia’s “Embrace of the Serpent” next year. Canada’s last film to be nominated was 2012’s “War Witch.” Last year’s pick, “Mommy,” did not make the shortlist.