Friday, November 11, 2011

Checking in with the Other Israel Film Festival: Infidelity Drama Naomi

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 2:43 PM

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This year's Other Israel Film Festival kicked off last night and continues through the 17th; Naomi screens tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.

Lies, adultery, love, and death surround beautiful young Naomi (Melanie Peres) in Eitan Tzur’s film of the same name, which focuses on the characters affected by the leading lady more than on the woman herself. Sure, she’s on screen a decent amount, but only to remind the audience why everyone is so infatuated with her.

Though married to shlumpy, overweight professor Ilan (Yossi Pollak), Naomi—possibly 30 years younger—is carrying on an affair with the more age-appropriate Oded (Rami Heuberger). It’s clear from the beginning that Ilan has suspicions: the first scene has him frantically searching the house for Naomi, repeatedly dialing her cell, and being questioned once again by his mother: “You’re at it again?” Ilan’s sarcastic mom (Orna Porat), who apparently had numerous affairs in her day, advises her son to let if fizzle out naturally lest he lose his trophy. “You’re smothering her,” she says. Easier said than done, at least for Ilan.

Tzur and his cinematographer Shai Goldman don’t focus on the Haifa backdrop, but rather on key props, foreshadowing the elegantly functional plot, and on the characters themselves. In fact, it’s a story that could easily take place anywhere. Close-ups of the talented actors enacting raw emotion and believable interactions allow the audience to connect effortlessly.

Suspense is also an important element, but Tzur’s tone remains naturalistic. While some events are more “normal” than others, each character’s reaction leaves us with an unsettling feeling. The characters are all passionate people, but their reactions to the plot’s turns can be unsetting; their capacity for denial of guilt has us questioning our own morals. Ilan’s mother in particular has such a nonchalance about her that you can’t help but be put off. Naomi successfully forces us to consider why unacceptable acts are performed with unselfish intentions.

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