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Max Minsky and Me

By Wendy Ward | Posted 4/1/2009

Nelly Sue Edelmeister (Zoe Moore) is a 13-year old with big round glasses who shields herself from the rest of the kids in her class with sarcasm or silence and a huge astronomy book in director Anna Justice's Max Minsky and Me, based on Holly-Jane Rahlens' teen novel Prince William, Maximilian, and Me. She's a smarty pants with a big imagination that keeps her head in the stars and her heart set on blond Prince Edouard of Luxembourg (they changed the Prince's name from the book to the movie).

Nelly lives in Berlin with her German father Benny (Jan Josef Liefers), a trumpet-playing jazz musician with a pork-pie hat and a roaming eye, and her Jewish-American mother Lucy (Adriana Altaras), whose busy planning Nelly's bat mitzvah. Nelly finds the time to visit her "great aunt" Risa Ginsberg (Monica Bleibtreu) and Risa's meddling friends with their sorbet-colored bouffant hair and diverse advice.

They know Nelly dislikes Hebrew school because Nelly doesn't understand why it's important to be Jewish and that she wants to get on the basketball team in order to meet the prince at a tournament held in Luxembourg--yes, the prince is real, and he's taking part in the tournament. As close as she is with the old ladies, Nelly keeps her fruitful inner life--realized here in bright visuals and music that animate her thoughts and dreams--to herself. So Nelly strikes up a deal with Melissa Minsky (Susanna Simon), who runs a jazz club, to tutor her son Max (Emil Reinke) and talks him into coaching her on the court. Spending time with a real boy, instead of a prince in her head, opens Nelly to the real world, harsh as it can be.

Nelly grows up in Max Minsky and Me, and it's a little sad to see the character suddenly wear a shirt that shows her tiny breast buds, apply lip gloss, and stare into the mirror, but she matures, too, coming to a better understanding of what religion can add to even the most scientific life.

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