To Dust (2019)

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Movie Info

Shawn Snyder's TO DUST premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, followed by screenings at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival. This feature film debut from Snyder is tells the tale of Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in Upstate New York, who is distraught by the untimely death of his wife, Rivkah. As he struggles to find solace in his religion, which proffers a stringent timeline for grief, Shmuel grows increasingly haunted by visions of Rivkah's decomposing corpse. Convinced that her soul will suffer until her body returns to dust, Shmuel decides that to stop his feverish spiral he must seek an understanding of the physical processes of her decay - despite the blasphemy inherent in any scientific inquiry. Risking discovery and expulsion, Shmuel tip-toes outside his enclave, where his search leads to Albert, a bumbling biology professor at the local community college. Soon, Albert is unwittingly seduced into an odd world of homespun forensic research and begins to guide Shmuel through outrageous experiments that aim to approximate a timeline for Rivkah's dissolution - starting with the theft, suffocation and burial of a pig. As amateur scientists practicing imperfect science and incompetent criminals on progressively absurd outings, the two find themselves neck-deep in genres in which neither of them belongs. With their macabre moonlit misadventures growing ever more perilous, the odd couple will stop at nothing to satiate their curiosity and ultimately find Shmuel the comfort he desperately seeks.

Cast

Sammy Voit
as Naftali
Sarah Jes Austell
as Receptionist Sam
Bern Cohen
as Reb Goshen

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Critic Reviews for To Dust

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (10)

Shawn Snyder makes a strikingly original and winsome feature debut.

Feb 15, 2019 | Full Review…

Beneath the sometimes grisly visuals and the pitch-black humor and the general weirdness, this is the story of two men with precious little in common who become friends against all odds...

Feb 14, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The movie could use a little more energy - this is Paul Mazursky territory, after all, not Andrei Tarkovsky - but in its sick-but-sweet attempt to reclaim grief from the trappings of tradition, "To Dust" is its own well-measured godsend.

Feb 14, 2019 | Full Review…

[T]here's something in the relationship between these two partnerless men - their yearning for connection - that feels, beneath the jokes, very real and very recognizable.

Feb 12, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Snyder does not sugarcoat the realities of grief or biological inevitability, although he does, rather surprisingly, find humor in the protagonist's unhealthy obsession.

Feb 8, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Shmuel's trancelike idiocy is broad for my taste, but Röhrig's helplessness is affecting and has a larger resonance.

Feb 7, 2019 | Full Review…

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