Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Movie with Abe: God of the Piano

God of the Piano
Directed by Itay Tal
Released September 18, 2020 (Virtual Cinema)

All parents have expectations of their children, but the way in which they express them and react when they likely don’t materialize into reality can vary. A family of doctors, lawyers, or some other profession will no doubt have a path paved towards the eventual attainment of that career which a child may or may not follow, depending on their desire to conform or to blaze their own trail. Parents may not take no for an answer, directing what their offspring do by consistently prioritizing it and barring them from participating in activities that could serve as a distraction or pique other interests.

Anat (Naama Preis) is a concert pianist so devoted to her craft that she finishes performing even after her water breaks. The news that her baby has been born deaf is crushing, and she takes unconscionable steps to ensure that her child will be able to follow in her footsteps. As Idan (Andy Levi) grows up, he develops incredible musical skills that rival Anat’s but still seem to fail to impress her accomplished father, Arieh (Ze'ev Shimshoni), who reserves the praise he withholds from Anat and Idan for her brother, Dror (Alon Openhaim). Anat’s will to have her son succeed and prove her own worth stand at odds with the priorities of her husband, Hanan (Ron Bitterman), as she seeks out approval from a celebrity pianist (Shimon Mimran) who seems more interested in a relationship with her than in helping her son.

This film’s entire premise is one that requires considerable suspension of disbelief and may prove difficult to accept for some viewers. Yet, regardless of what specific events are portrayed, the central theme of this film is that some parents will go to incredible lengths to create a mold of themselves in their children, ignoring morality for the sake of what they believe will be happiness. Unsurprisingly, that approach leads to considerable resentment and a constant yearning for something better, and, in this case, Anat’s controlling nature towards her son contradicts the supportive space she always wished her father had created for her, shaping Idan to feel similarly towards her as she does towards Arieh.

Preis tackles a difficult role with a careful precision, presenting a stoic and uncompromising front as Anat engages with those who believe her to be inferior. It’s nearly impossible to like Anat, but there’s still something appealing and relatable about her that helps to humanize the character and make her decisions minimally understandable. Levi, in his film debut, is compelling in his general compliance, indicating only moderate resistance to the control his mother wields over his life. Shimshoni, Bitterman, and Mimran enhance the supporting cast as extensions of Anat’s story. This film, which runs eighty minutes, is not always pleasant and probes a problematic relationship, but what it explores is deeply thought-provoking and far more applicable to many real-life experiences than might initially seem apparent.


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