The opening scene is a miniature of this powerful film's strategy. An abstract image turns into the subjective view of (what turns out to be) a woman motorcycling to audition for a film role. But that unbroken movement turns out to be an outside perspective upon her.
The ensuing narrative presents a left-wing Jewish filmmaker's outrage at the repressiveness and cruelty of the Israeli government. The film ultimately detaches from that character's rage and finds him self-destructive.
Most obviously, the director character Yud rails against Israeli censorship. The state won't allow criticism or controversy, he insists. But this film itself - supported, financed, unimpeded by the Israeli government - destroys that claim. In that region Israel is the only state that would allow such commentary in the arts or on political platforms.
In his misplaced indignation Yud would destroy the career of the young culture officer who has been taking care of him. Her name, Yahalon (or Diamond) evokes her value and beauty, that he in his unfounded indignation would destroy. His name, Yud, the 10th letter in the Hebrew alphabet, denotes "god," the creative power a director has over the film he's making - but is hubristically doomed if he tries to assert it in real life.
That this Yud does, disastrously, not just with Yahalon but in the anecdote he tells about his having staged a mass suicide to test a new recruit. Over the course of the narrative the tormentor becomes the tormented.
Yud's rant against the Israeli government will find ready agreement among the Israeli and diaspora far-left and among the global sector that finds anti-Zionism a handy veil for their antisemitism. Whether they admit the film's radical undermining of that position is another matter.
Yud suffers the PTSD of conflicted Israeli everyday life, not necessarily deriving from his Sinai service. He entered the army idealistically, hoping to become a warrior. He emerged coarsened, broken and extremist. Constantly under existential threat, Israelis live in intense polarization.
Yud emerges as a case of arrested development. His imperviousness to Yahalon's appeal may connect to his obsessive attention to his dying mother, to whom he obsessively sends messages. The death of his screenwriter mother may grow out of director Nadav Lapid's own mother having died shortly after editing his Golden Bear feature Synonyms.
So, too, the theme of an idealist turning sour recalls Lapid's The Kindergarten Teacher as well as Synonyms. Yud's tirade ends in his helpless weeping. He's exhausted by his own compulsive righteousness.
Lapid provides a hopeful balance in the young girl who consoles Yud: "Don't be angry. You are good." And "Do good and you will feel good." Redemption lies in the recovery of humane connections, not in raging self-righteousness - at either end of the political spectrum.
Yud survived the army and succeeded as a film director. But his rage disabled his changing with the times. Hence the references to his community's loss of its excellent red pepper industry, destroyed by climate change and competition from Spain. The Israelis' life under constant threat - from both outside and within - finds its humanity similarly at risk.
Typically, Israeli's Left cinema anatomizes the nation's mind and policy without openly defining the primary cause. Israel's conduct is condemned without acknowledging the existential threat that provokes it. Lapid detaches from the far Left anger, though his irony may not stand up to the power of his central character's rhetoric.
The title? The actress of that opening shot is auditioning to play the Israeli demonstrator against the government who is to be punished by the shattering of her knee. When the narrative shifts completely from that project to its director's own disintegration the film equates the two violent extremes in Israeli politics, Left and Right. The joint isn't jumping; it's crumbling.
Loading video, please wait...
Y., an Israeli filmmaker in his mid-forties, arrives in a remote village at the far end of the desert to present one of his films. There he meets Yahalom, an officer for the Ministry of Culture, and finds himself fighting two losing battles: one against the death of freedom in his country, the other against the death of his mother.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 18, 2022 at 10:02 AM