Jan Wahl: 'All Is Lost' and 'Torn'

Shot in the East Bay ... two of our fine local filmmakers, Jeremiah Birnbaum and Michael Richter, illuminate a timely story about two mothers forming a bond when their sons are killed in a terrorist attack.... This is brave filmmaking with an excellent acting ensemble.

CBS SF BAY AREA, October 25, 2013


Movie review, "Torn": aftermath of an attack

"Torn" is a succinct and emotionally truthful drama about the aftermath of a terrorist attack, as experienced by two families. It's a portrait of grief and devastation, and also of the ways in which the police and media can jump to conclusions and feed off of the public's anger and confusion...



Review: 'Torn' tackles post-9/11 values

“Torn” capitalizes on a gripping and emotional storyline to deliver a terrific ending.... [W]ith its focus on ordinary, realistic people dealing with an event that is all too possible, it does something a lot of better-financed Hollywood movies don’t: It makes you think.

THE MERCURY NEWS, October 23, 2013


Two Mothers, Divided by Their Sons

Slowly uncovering the prejudices that calamity can unleash, Michael Richter’s screenplay lays bare the damage wrought by Sept. 11 while deftly dodging hysteria, wondering how we differentiate between innocent teenage behaviors and dangerous red flags. Most of all, it wonders if we can ever fully know the people we live with, leaving the question to resonate as deeply as the two women’s grief...

THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 17, 2013


Film Review: Torn

From a terse, wonderfully observant and unsentimental screenplay by Michael Richter, director Jeremiah Birnbaum has made a refreshingly low-key, unhysterical account of a modern tragedy and the very specific ways it affects people, long after horrific incidents happen.... Richter tells the tale with admirable economy—the film runs 80 minutes—as well as an unstressed but devastating emotional authenticity. He could have ended his film with the question of the boys' culpability unanswered and that ambiguity would have been sufficient, but instead he reveals the truth, and the revelation is breathtakingly poignant...



Torn: Film Review

Michael Richter’s screenplay weaves together its various themes and such subplots as Lea’s tentatively resuming a relationship with her long estranged ex-husband (Patrick St. Esprit) with intelligence and sensitivity, not to mention an uncommon succinctness (the film runs a scant 80 min). The relationships between the complex characters are well drawn, and the ironic ending manages to touchingly upend our expectations...



A Tender, Well-Performed Narrative on Multicultural Intricacies Amid Tragedy in Torn

Michael Richter’s intimate script traverses this mercurial territory without veering into hysterics—a great accomplishment. When the women tearfully confront one another, you’re on the journey toward acceptance with them. Made for less than $500,000, Torn is proof that a little can go a long way. In fact, the microscale perfectly lends itself to the story’s quiet revelations... 

THE VILLAGE VOICE, October 16, 2013



A genuinely unsettling microcosm of modern terrorism... Torn rings with the sound of quiet truth. “I have a bomb and a Pakistani kid, so I’m sure you can appreciate where we’ll have to go with this,” a detective (John Heard) says early on. The welcome surprise of Birnbaum’s film is that where it has to go is so unexpected.

THE DISSOLVE, October 16, 2013