Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
FORGIVENESS MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: Udi Aloni
Running time: 97 minutes
Release date: September 12, 2008
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Musical and Dance (In Hebrew & English with English subtitles)
Distributor: International Film Circuit
MPAA Rating: R
This unflinching film focuses on culture and politics at both the national and human scale in Israel and Palestine, stemming from one young American-Israeli man's outlook in the contemporary world.
Forgiveness tells the story of David Adler (Italy Tiran),who is a 20 year old New York Jew. Adler decides to move back to Israel and join the Israeli army, only to find himself committed to a mental institution that sits on the ruins of a Palestinian village called Deir Yassin. In flashback and flashforward scenes, the movie reveals the events that lead to his hospitalization.
Part of the backstory is that on April 9, 1948, a Jewish militia entered the village of Deir Yassin and killed over 100 villagers, and soon afterwards a mental hospital was built on the ruins. The first patients to be committed were Holocaust survivors. A legend says that the survivors have been communicating with the ghosts of the village.
This provocative and powerful film takes the audience through the struggles of David to control his destiny, only to find out he destiny is controlling him. The setting of the film is impacted by the global common ground of modern day dance music that links young people and gives feeling of coexistence between two troubled cultures.
David is consumed by guilt over the shooting of a young Palestinian girl (Tamara Mansour) he killed and now is in a depressed state of mind until he is prescribed an experimental drug. This drug creates a symbolic manifestation of the selective memory that the oppressor uses in order to keep his split subject intact. On the one hand, he thinks of himself as an honorable man. On the other hand, he is willing to do anything in order to live his good, productive life without any guilt. David's problem is that the drug will not allow him to confront his past. Only through a blind fellow patient, a Holocaust survivor named Muselman (Moni Moshonov) who communicates with the dead, can David confront his demons.
The film has various subplots of David's love affairs with Palestinian women (Ruba Blal and Ohad Naharin). In his real and fantasy world, he finds these women desirable, although they are not of his religion or culture.
One of the things that makes this a brilliant film is the title. Filmmaker Udi Aloni said that, "the original name in Hebrew is 'Mechilot,' which has double meaning: One, 'forgiveness' in plural, and two, 'underground tunnels. ' There is a Kabbalistic belief that when righteous Jews die in the Diaspora, they go through underground tunnels (mechilot) in order to resurrect when the Messiah comes."
Another thing that sets this film apart from other films is music and dances scenes. World acclaimed choreographer Ohad Naharin is one of the most original dance creators that Israel has produced. Naharin is at the top of his game in this movie using an international language of modern dance with the materials of Arab and Jewish cultures to excite the audience. The cast of magnificent actors brilliantly deliver intriguing dialogue with their performances that is enhanced by two dimensional images and dark mysterious backdrops.
This film demands the audiences' attention throughout the movie in order to be fully rewarded by a narrative that fills every scene with critical and detail storylines. This is a low budget indie that gives off the feeling of a good big budget film. Try it, you'll like it.
FILM RATING (A)