Films “Mabul (The Flood) and “Restoration” are reviewed by Amy Kronish.
Mabul (The Flood)
“Mabul (The Flood),” directed by Guy Nattiv, script by Nattiv and Noa Berman-Herzberg, tells the hard-hitting story of the difficulties of a family with a special needs child. The narrative revolves around a 13-year-old boy, Yoni, who is about to become bar mitzvah; his mother (Ronit Elkabetz), a nursery school teacher; and the father (Tzachi Grad) who is keeping it a secret that he has been barred from working as a crop-duster at the nearby airfield. The family is rather dysfunctional; the parents barely speak to each other, and then the older brother, Tomer, comes home from the institution where he has been for the last 12 years. Tomer is severely autistic.
The cinematography is superb with an emphasis on close-ups, making the sorrow, the betrayals and the difficulties terribly authentic and in-your-face. The acting is a tour-de-force for the two brothers – Yoav Rotman as Yoni and Michael Moshonov as his older autistic brother – and the connection that is created between the two brothers is a remarkable one.
The script is compelling, well-paced and laden with meaning. In dealing with the sea and the story of Noah and the flood, it offers an image for traveling far away, dreaming of a better life and for being washed clean and starting over. According to the scriptwriter, Noa Berman-Herzberg, the central metaphor centers around the theme of the sinners in the story of Noah and the ark. Everyone in the family is a sinner. The mother is betraying the father. The father has a problem with alcohol. There is the earlier sin of how the parents dealt with their autistic child, letting the shame of it break apart their marriage. Lastly, the younger brother, selling homework to make money, gives voice to terrible resentments against his parents. They all have sins to make up for and here is a new chance for all of them.
“Mabul” will be screened twice at the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival: Sunday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 8:30 p.m. both at Digiplex Destinations Bloomfield 8. For information visit www.hjff.org, 860-231-6316 or download the festival iPhone App.
“Restoration”, directed by Yossi Madmony, is a touching and sensitive study of a man and his relationship with his son. A film about our attachment to old things and memory — Mr. Fiedelman (Sasson Gabai) works at restoring antique furniture. His partner of 40 years dies suddenly of a heart attack, after a visit from a prostitute. Previously, Fiedelman worked with the wood and his partner did the dealings with customers and suppliers. Now, he has to handle all aspects of the business and he discovers that the situation is not so good.
His ambitious son, Noah, wants to close his father’s shop and instead build an apartment building on the premises. But Fiedelman is not so ready to give up his life work. He pins his hopes on his new, young apprentice, who himself is hiding from the world and running from his family (though we do not learn why). The apprentice, who tries desperately to win Fiedelman’s trust and help him raise the cash to keep his business running, is an accomplished pianist. He entices Fiedelman into restoring an antique Steinway piano that they find in the back of the shop. Perhaps this will help them raise the funds needed.
As the rivalry between the two “sons” increases, the apprentice becomes involved with Noah’s pregnant wife. Thus, the two “sons” are competing for the attentions of the same woman and, at the same time, competing for the father’s inheritance and blessing. Note the Biblical theme.
Erez Kav-El won the award for best dramatic screenplay for his script for this film at Sundance.
“Restoration” will be screened at the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival Wednesday, March 21, 6 p.m. at Criterion Cinemas, Blue Back Square in West Hartford. For information visit www.hjff.org, 860-231-6316 or download the festival iPhone App
Amy Kronish is the author of “World Cinema: Israel” and “Israeli Film: A Reference Guide.” Read her blog on Israel film at israelfilm.blogspot.com.