Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Israel Film Center Festival Spotlight: Outdoors

I’m pleased to be covering the 6th Annual Israel Film Center Festival at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, which runs June 5th-12th.

Directed by Asaf Saban
Screening June 12th at 7pm

Building a house is an important undertaking, since it allows those with a vision to truly imagine and create the place they want to live. What happens if and when someone else eventually moves in is irrelevant since they are the architects of their own desires, not adapting anyone else’s preexisting ideas to their own. Envisioning what a plot of land can be transformed into is a considerably difficult and challenging process, and it’s rare that what is ultimately built will match the original concept exactly, a notion that can make the journey enormously problematic for those unwilling to accept necessary compromises and concessions.

Yaara (Noa Koler) and Gili (Udi Razzin) are building a house together, leaving behind the city of Tel Aviv for the open country of the Galilee. What begins as a dream construction project slowly turns into something more complicated, as neighbors interject with their opinions and a window that provides a different view than expected adds time and money to the project that can’t hope to equal the stress and discord created by its implementation. Building their future home turns into a full-time job, leading the two to seek moments of peace and clarity away from each other.

This film opens in a fascinating way, with Yaara and Gili speaking while a computer-animated simulation of what their home will look like is shown on screen, and the actors don’t actually appear until a few minutes into the film. That first shot maps out how the house is meant to look once it’s finished, offering clear expectations for its builders, and that makes the dissatisfaction with the results that both parties express indicative of more than just a different design apparent. Watching their relationship begin to crack as the foundation of their new home is assembled helps to build an important contrast in the direction of their family, which will soon be growing as Yaara discovers that she is pregnant.

The lone Ophir Israeli Academy Award nomination for this film went to Koler, who took home the Best Actress prize a year earlier for “The Wedding Plan,” a film that allowed her to be much livelier and more memorable. She’s still the strongest part of this film, which presents an intriguing premise but doesn’t quite travel as complex or rewarding a path as it could, affirming the potential to create problems that comes from collaborating on a project of this significance but offering less in the way of a substantial conclusion.


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