In Leona, a Jewish woman living in Mexico City, an artist, finds herself struggling with her love for a non-Jewish man. She was a free spirited soul who didn’t especially want the traditional path of most women in her community.
As Leona opens, we get to know Ariela (Naian González Norvind). She lived with her single mother Estrella (Carolina Politi) who was busily engaged in her own dating life. She wanted Ariela to find a suitable man (Jewish, of course) for herself, too.
Ariela painted murals. Big ones. She worked alone on the streets and in offices, which was considered unsafe by most of her family and friends. One day a passing man, Iván (Christian Vazquez) struck up a conversation with her. They started dating.
They were in love before very long. Ariela didn’t tell anyone in her family that she was dating a non-Jewish man. She wouldn’t let him meet them. Even after her mother found out what she was doing and kicked her out of the house, she wouldn’t let Iván meet her family.
Eventually they broke up over the issue. Ariela tried dating Jewish men. Some of them were pretty unappealing. When Gabriel (Daniel Adissi) was picked and approved by her family, she really got disgusted with the whole situation. They were ready to marry her off whether she wanted it or not.
Ariela was such an interesting character. She was strong minded and independent, but she also wanted to be part of her family and her community. She didn’t want what other people wanted for herself. She struggled to navigate it all in a way that made her happy and whole. The one thing that she clung to was her artistic expression.
You don’t learn why the film is called Leona instead of Ariela until the very end.
I thought the film was beautifully done and gave a sympathetic look into a very real woman’s life and choices. Isaac Cherem was the writer and director.
You can see Leona on Prime Video.