Set between a smoky, mid-century jazz-club and the small flat his family crowds into, this acerbic romance follows Solomon, a quiet, somewhat shy jazz saxophonist earning just enough to provide his deathbed-bound father with the traditional “shuna” from the old country, where a young woman ritualistically (and non-sexually) shares a bed with an older man. Despite evident feelings for her, Solomon recruits Avigail, a woman from the club, to shuna for his father. The situation deteriorates as Solomon’s loudmouth brother Adonijah tries to assert his control over the family, eventually forcing himself on Avigail and nearly coming to blows with his mother after his father’s death. A man of his wits rather than his fists, Solomon uses the return of a watch Adonijah stole earlier from a club patron to engineer his removal (scared away, rather than killed), and as Avigail packs her things to leave for the last time, Solomon thanks her with a solo piece he has composed for her, letting his art speak louder than his words. At the last moment of the film, Avigail invites him for a drink, finally igniting their romantic tension.
Warmth and Song adapts the story of Abishag and Solomon set out in 1 Kings 1 and 1 Kings 2, where his father David requests a shuna (a tradition practised in Europe until the C17th) before death, and where Adonijah twice tries underhanded means to assert his primacy in the line of succession, though here with an emphasis on Solomon’s and Adonijah’s contest over the rule of a family rather than of a kingdom. In this story as in the Bible, Solomon uses an appeal to outside authorities to undermine Adonijah’s claims, as well as protecting Abishag from his affections. Additional inspiration for Solomon’s character, as a clever man, good with money, with a strong and tolerant sense of moral justice and an eloquent tongue he deploys only when necessary, is taken from throughout 1 Kings. The notion of him being a man who expresses himself through composition is taken from the reconstruction of the Temple in 1 Kings 6, as well as his potential authorship of Ecclesiastes and the erotic/romantic Song of Songs (of which Abishag is allegedly the subject).