Director-writer Eliran Elya’s feature début is a very dark tale about tale two men struggling to stay afloat in a world which, seemingly, wants to drown them both. It is a powerful vision whose characters play out these scenes every day in various ways around all corners of the planet.
At the centre of it all is when sometime filmmaker, Assi’s brush with the law requires a stint of community service. Accordingly, he “volunteers” to teach a group of equally at-odds-with-society young men and women, hoping to show them not only how to make films but also how to cope with life: “In each of us is a demon…that can fool us.” The rest of the film succinctly proves that telling statement.
Most notable amongst the sad band of hellraisers is Eden. Adar Hazazi Gersch’s first time before the camera is immediately impressive for the wide range of emotions and subtle body language the actor employs to bring his troubled character to miserable life. His hate/love relationship with Assi—beginning with petty theft then ending in shackles—comes to a climax with a heartbreaking, heart-wrenching embrace that speaks so much more than any bits of dialogue ever could.
Rina, displaying the patience of Job, and is surrogate mother for the film students, has a credible advocate in the exacting art of tough love from Batel Moseri; likewise Hilla Sarjon gives a fine performance as Eden’s single mom, Almut; Riki Hudara is also well-cast playing her namesake with a compelling mix of boldness and brashness. Rounding out the women is Melodi Frank’s marvellously understated take on Assi’s on-again, off-again love interest, Alma.
The dramatic conceit of giving each a student a camera and assigning them to film themselves and say something personal, affords Elya the ability to cut away from the main action and slip in vignettes from various members of the tribe: e.g., two of their number having gay sex just before throwing rocks off a bridge onto fast-moving cars—nothing is seen, but all is revealed.
Assi has much to extol his charges about the notions of human senses and perceptions, raising the perpetual question: Is all of life actually just a dream?
By journey’s end, Eden desperately hopes so while Assi is summarily flung into the nightmare of a lifetime. JWR