'Itzhak' film review: Meet the husband, the artist behind the violin
The genuine documentary "Itzhak" (opening April 6 in additional cities) is an intimate portrait of the renowned violinist, a film rooted in Perlman as the musician that also reveals the man behind the instrument.
In short: A look at Itzhak Perlman as a son, student, teacher, husband and violinist.
Simply put, Perlman is legendary violinist: a multi-Grammy award winner who has performed for heads of state and remained influential since making his U.S. appearance as a child on TV in the 1960s. A less compelling documentary could have focused solely on these notable achievements, but "Itzhak" thankfully puts the man himself - his perspectives and loves - center stage. The documentary doesn't merely sing the praises of the world renowned Perlman - which it could have effortlessly done. This is rich portrait focused on what Perlman is passionate about - specifically his Israeli roots and classical music.
Director Alison Chernick's fly-on-the-wall approach lets the audience feel as if they have a seat at the table as the famed violinist chats with his contemporaries as well as his friends and family. Even when he's sitting in his kitchen with famed "M*A*S*H" actor Alan Alda, the conversation never feels like a staid discussion of the arts between two artists - it has the lightness and natural vibe of two old friends chatting over lunch.
While Perlman gets to wax poetic on a variety of topics, from his Jewish background to the vitality of the arts, this documentary also allows the musician to reflect on his past and present. These introspective moments reveal what influences and moves him as an artist. His youthful enthusiasm is absolutely infectious - and it is the spark of what keeps "Itzhak" engaging.
At a brisk 82 minutes long, "Itzhak" does not overstay its welcome. The film could be criticized for not going too in depth into some of the subjects the film broaches, such as Perlman's childhood bought with polio or the Holocaust. The film never pretends to attempt a full deconstruction of Perlman's life or philosophies, but rather, this documentary is an introduction to Perlman the baseball fan, the storyteller, the Jewish immigrant, the loving husband and the sincere lover of moving art.
Final verdict: "Itzhak" is a sublime and unaffected celebration of the legendary artist, as well as the man himself.
"Itzhak" opens in additional select cities April 6. The documentary is not rated and has a running time of 82 minutes.