Hannah Senesh Doc: Sorely Shallow?

It had come eerily close to an Oscar nomination just a week ago, but then it flopped. “Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh” had the scent of promise emanating from every end: its heroic feminist narrative, a Holocaust-era backdrop and an all-female production team that included once superstar television producer Marta Kauffman, creator of “Friends,” who staked a career-changing turn in this documentary.

As most who follow the ups and downs of the industry know, Hollywood is predictably fickle, and this was never intended to be a film that made money. But art-for-Academy-Awards-sake is not quite noble enough, and the The New York Times is apparently a much tougher critic than Hollywood. It did not have a nice thing to say about the little Hannah Senesh doc that (almost) could, but didn’t. 

From the review:

An opaque blend of interviews, archival film and tasteful re-enactments, Roberta Grossman’s “Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh” documents courage, but steers clear of character.

But as Todd Boekelheide’s lugubrious score groans in the background and animated arrows forge across maps, Ms. Senesh’s former cellmates and fellow kibbutz members hint intriguingly at an aloof, lonely young woman whose poem “Blessed Is the Match” suggests a hyper-idealized view of her destiny.

“I didn’t like her; I admired her,” a fellow parachutist says dryly. But the director ignores this and every opportunity to excavate the heroine from the heroism, opting instead for a tribute that leaves Ms. Senesh ’s personality as vague in the final frame as in the first.