Joshua Then and Now (1985): Kotcheff’s Serio-Comedy, Based on Richler’s Autobiographical Novel, Starring James Woods

The Canadian film Joshua Then and Now, directed by Ted Kotcheff, world premiered at the 1985 Cannes Film Fest (In Competition) and was later released by Fox.

The script, adapted by Mordecai Richler from his autobiographical novel of the same title, is too shallow and fragmented, trying to cover a lengthy time period with many events; as source material, it’s more suitable for a TV series (which indeed it became).

The film depicts Joshua growing up in his Montreal neighborhood, and then his adventures as a successful writer (James Woods plays his as an adult).  Joshua marries the “golden shiksa” of his dreams, Pauline (Gabriella Lazure), to the dismay of his religious parents (Alan Arkin is the father).  But gradually everything around Joshua begins to crumble and he must act quickly to recover it.

The film is a logical follow-up for the Jewish-Canadian Kotcheff, who had previously helmed another feature based on a Richter’s novel, the superior film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

While a big commercial flop in the U.S., the film was much better appreciated in Canada, where it was nominated for multiple Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscar).