DVD Review: Phyllis and Harold - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DVD Review: Phyllis and Harold

Scene from "Phyllis and Harold" Scene from "Phyllis and Harold"
Cindy Kleine's documentary is an examination of her parents' marriage. Her parents are Phyllis and Harold Kleine, a couple who has been together for over 50 years and Cindy wanted to know why.
Cindy grew up with her sister Ricky and her parents on Long Island. On the outside, they might have seemed like a nice, Jewish family. Yet, nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Through individual interviews with both her mom, Phyllis, and her dad, Harold, Cindy reveals the problematic relationship that she in part witnessed growing up.
Cindy and her sister say that they didn't have happy memories from their childhood. Cindy even admits that she barely has any memories of her parents. Her father seemed always busy, be it with his dental or real estate work, and her mother basically turned over the responsibility of raising Cindy to a black woman named Annie.
Cindy says she's questioned her parents over the years but now she's finally put a camera right in their faces and is getting them to talk about their lives in a candid, confessional-style testimonial where the elderly couple speak directly into the lens.
At first, it's funny. Phyllis and Harold's interpretations of their marrage are complete, polar opposites. Cindy does a great job of editing. She cuts back-and-forth between Phyllis describing how horrible the marriage was and Harold nonchalantly describing how great it was.
Phyllis and Harold met on New Year's Eve 1939 in Far Rockaway. They were young and cute, and they did the normal young and cute things that two young and cute teens in the 1930s would do in the courting process. This would all lead to a wedding and children and a nice home. Fast forward 50 years and Phyllis openly admits that she married the wrong man. Phyllis then goes into the details of the love affair she had with another guy.
Besides layering and animating still photos, that's it. That's all Cindy's documentary is. Her mother's hidden love affair and the revelations that come from it are the meat of this movie, and let me tell you. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but it's certainly enough to make this one of the best documentaries of 2010.
It may not have a lot of grand special effects or stylized filmmaking techniques, but it has what every great movie hopes to have, an interesting person telling them an interesting story, and like with any great nonfiction work, it's honest. It's an honesty that you feel and see. It's people talking to you and laying bare their hearts and souls. By the end, you see that it's all about a woman dealing with loss of some kind or another, and it's heartbreaking, but only because it is so fundamentally real.

Five Stars out of Five
Unrated but recommended for Mature Audiences
Running Time: 1 hr. and 25 mins.

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