This low-budget British film is a small gem of a comedy, with an inventive plot and offbeat characters.
Leon Geller (Mark Frankel) is a nice Jewish boy who's recently quit his job as a London real estate agent, after learning his company was going to destroy a famed landmark. Unsure of his plans, and nagged constantly by his family as to when he's going to get married, Leon reluctantly takes a job
with his mother's catering firm. This doesn't impress potential mate Gina (Lisa Bellman), who tells Leon she prefers someone more exciting and daring.
While making a delivery to a fertility clinic, Leon accidentally discovers he was the product of artificial insemination, owing to his father's low sperm count. He angrily confronts his parents (Janet Suzman, David De Keyser), who reply that they were waiting for the right moment to tell him and
never got around to it. He decides to take a test to see if he has inherited his Dad's problem. On the way out of the clinic, Leon accidently hits a bicyclist, Madeleine (Maryam D'Abo), with his car. She's pretty, artistic, a bit eccentric, and definitely unkosher; after recovering, she invites
Leon in for tea and seduces him.
When Leon goes back to the clinic for his test results, he's in for a shock; he's not infertile, but he's told there was a mix-up when he was concieved, and his "real" father is actually Brian Chadwick (Brian Glover), a Yorkshire pig farmer. Leon drives out to find him and pops in on Brian, his
wife Yvonne (Polly Booth, of MONTY PYTHON and FAWLTY TOWERS fame), and their extended family. He stays with them awhile, teaching them about everything from Yiddish to chicken soup, while he in turn learns about pig farming, even assisting the local veterinarian in the artificial insemination of a
sow. But once again there is a mix-up, one that may result in the world's first "kosher pig." Leon, thinking he may have a scientific and religious breakthrough on his hands, kidnaps the pig and returns to his parents in London. His dad is shocked when Leon tells him of his actual lineage, and
when the Chadwicks drive down to Leon's parents to convince him to return to Yorkshire, Leon is torn: should he stay on with his parents' company or become the first "kosher" pig farmer?
Jointly directed by Vadim Jean and Gary Sinyor, from a screenplay by Sinyor and comedy writer-performer Michael Normand, LEON is a low-key treat full of unexpected comic touches, from the modern rabbi who keeps his services on floppy disk, to the device (disconcerting at first) of having perfect
strangers stop Leon, no matter where he is, to offer advice. One of the best scenes has both sets of "parents" meeting, with each trying to fool the other with atypical behavior: the Gellers affecting riciulously upper-crust accents and the Chadwicks tossing off Yiddish expressions and mannerisms.
At its best, LEON recalls the work of Bill Forsyth (LOCAL HERO, COMFORT AND JOY) in its easy blending of the surreal and the mundane. Shot on a tiny budget, the film enjoyed only a brief theatrical run in the US in 1993 and deserves to find a larger audience on video. (Profanity, sexualsituations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: This low-budget British film is a small gem of a comedy, with an inventive plot and offbeat characters. Leon Geller (Mark Frankel) is a nice Jewish boy who's recently quit his job as a London real estate agent, after learning his company was going to de… (more)