Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Drors' FOR MY FATHER gets a well-deserved theatrical run

When TrustMovies first covered the Israeli film FOR MY FATHER (Sof Shavua B'Tel Aviv), a well nigh irresis-
tible melodrama from director Dror Zahavi (shown below) & co-writers Idor & Jonatan Dror,  that made its NYC debut as part of the Israeli Film Festival in early December 2009, he was blown away by the movie.  That the film deals with Palestinian terror-
ists planning a bombing would seem to make his reaction appro-
priate, yet For My Father is so full of life -- so rich, moving, humane and even sometimes funny -- that the tears shed, chills felt and laughter experienced all seem utterly on the mark.

Although For My Father had been picked up by Film Movement for U.S. DVD distribution at the time of its festival debut, no theatrical release was planned.  Things change, fortunately, and now here it is opening in New York City at the Quad Cinemas this coming Friday, January 29.  The film eminently deserves theatrical play: On its home ground it was nominated for seven Israeli film awards, while winning two more from international festivals. The Film Movement box art quotes Eric Alterman at The Huffington Post, who calls the movie "transcendent."   Indeed it is.  And indeed it has a lot to transcend.

A film to which the cliche "Romeo and Juliet story" most definitely applies, For My Father is manipulative as all get-out, yet once its situation is in place, so deftly and realistically do the director and writers work everything out, and so beautifully performed is the film by its entire cast, that it simply takes off into the stratosphere, leaving you moved and chastened to an almost unbearable degree.

The filmmakers set up a conundrum which both the characters and us viewers first try to work out and then would be happy simply to escape from. And because the performers, particularly the two leads (Shredi Jabarin, shown above, and Hili Yalon, shown below), are so beautiful & persuasive, they win us over completely, as do the supporting actors (several are shown two photos below) -- each well cast and delivering an utterly lived-in performance.

So much of Israeli and Palestinian life -- from the workaday world to family, friends, religion and even soccer -- is encompassed by this movie that you come away from it enriched on many levels, even as you've been held fast by its simple and riveting plotting.  The use of soccer is especially telling and ironic, never more so than in its final and all-too-meaningful shot.

Though the set-up may manipulate, For My Father's follow-through plays absolutely fair from a just, ethical and honest standpoint. That this movie honors its situation and its characters -- Israeli and Palestinian -- so well may be its strongest point. I absolutely and unequivocably recommend it.

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