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  • Starring: Itzhak Perlman
  • Director: Alison Chernick
  • Genre(s): Documentary
  • Rating: NR
  • Running Time: 80 min.

From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to Brahms, Mozart to…Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman’s violin playing transcends mere performance to evoke the celebrations and struggles of real life; “praying with the violin,” says renowned Tel Aviv violinmaker Amnon Weinstein. Alison Chernick’s enchanting documentary looks beyond the sublime musician to see the polio survivor whose parents emigrated from Poland to Israel, and the young man who struggled to be taken seriously as a music student when schools saw only his disability. Itzhak himself is funny, irreverent and self-deprecating, and here his life story unspools in conversations with masterful musicians, family and friends, and most endearingly his devoted wife of 50 years, Toby. Itzhak and Toby’s lives are dedicated to their large, loving, Jewish family in NYC and their continual support of young musicians. As charming and entrancing as the famous violinist himself, ITZHAK is a portrait of musical virtuosity seamlessly enclosed in warmth, humor, and above all, love.

"It's less concerned with covering the totality of his life than evoking his life force, which is good-humored, earthy and inspiring. "
- Matt Zoller Seitz,
"As a portrait of a marriage forged in respect, love and companionship, Itzhak is in its casually wonderful way proof that life is rarely lived as a virtuosic solo. "
- Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
"Director Alison Chernick profiles the violin virtuoso, through his performance, of course, but she also reveals a personality as expressive as his musicianship. "
- Pat Padua, Washington Post
"The makers of the irresistible character-study doc Itzhak capture Itzhak Perlman’s characteristic warmth and bravado through short, anecdote-centric scenes that make the Israeli American violinist sound like a big-hearted raconteur who’s just dying to tell you everything about himself. "
- Simon Abrams, Village Voice
"Perlman seems that rare sort: a virtuoso at peace with God, neighbor, and himself, a man who suffered much in youth, and then triumphed over that suffering to make a happy, ordinary life."
- Matthew Lickona, San Diego Reader
"We get to know the man: the jovial grandfather, the joke teller, the dedicated husband, the patient teacher and loyal friend..."
- Gayle MacDonald, Globe and Mail
"Itzhak is ideal for Perlman fans, but it's also persuasive enough to create new fans. It's just impossible not to like this guy."
- Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"If anything, Chernick’s film shows a life that may be too perfect. In addition to his triumphant career, Perlman has a seemingly ideal marriage — to Toby, a woman who is his match in ebullience, wit, and passion for art and music. It has lasted for more than 50 years."
- Peter Keough, Boston Globe
"We witness Itzhak’s easy sense of humor, his often silent chuckle that almost makes it seem he’s ready to cry, and the impact music has on him while playing or listening. He explains with full candor how the teaching styles he hated as a child are the ones he has adopted. He’s self-deprecatingly jovial, religious and yet still pragmatic. "
- Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage