To say that “To Dust” is off the beaten path is an understatement. The film, a macabre combination of comedy and religion written by Jason Begue and Shawn Snyder and directed by Snyder, teams a slyly funny Matthew Broderick and a somberly funny Geza Rohrig in a very odd buddy situation.
Rohrig plays Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor who is deeply grieved about the death of his beloved wife. He is not only in mourning, but is overcome by a philosophical-religious-anatomical question of what happens to a body after burial.
Broderick plays Albert, who teaches biology, and is approached by Shmuel for help in answering his nagging question. At first Albert doesn’t want to get involved, but he is soon drawn into Shmuel’s mission of inquiry. Off they go on a path to discovery.
At first they consider burying a pig. But deciding that won’t produce reliable results pertaining to a human being, they bumble along, soon resorting to a cemetery expedition to dig up the wife’s body for examination as to what has happened so far, with an aim of replanting it without a coffin to aid in the research. The exploit involves slapstick comedy, including trying to secretly climb over a barrier and being discovered.
There’s more, and while the film is intermittently funny, it all becomes too absurd to be sustainable, even though one may admire both Broderick and Rohrig as game actors for what they endure in the absurd film. A GDE release. Reviewed February 8, 2019.