17 September 2012 | dromasca
midnight in Tel Aviv
Israeli film makers like playing with confined spaces. A couple of years ago first-time director Samuel Maoz was skillfully confining in Lebanon the drama of young men caught up in the cruelness and absurdity of the war as they participate in and watch the fight and fear for their lives and dreams from within a tank. Now another first-time director Roi Werner has the two heroes of his film watch the Big City (Tel Aviv may not be that impressive in numbers but it is for Israel the closest Israelis can get to the big cosmopolitan metropolis of the world) from within a car wandering endlessly at night in search of a parking spot. Israelis will confirm that it is not that unrealistic at all to have a full relationship develop and break while looking for a parking spot in Tel Aviv.
The name of the film has a double sense – it can mean 'two people in the night' and it can mean '2 o'clock' the hour when things start happening in the film. In Woody Allen's wonderful Midnight in Paris magic happens after midnight. This is not the case with Tel Aviv, if magic had happened the two heroes who met in a disco bar would have found a parking place and consumed their one night stand without letting the story happen and us see them wondering through a desert and rather ugly space of a few blocks in the center of the city. The whole world of the film is the way the relation develops between the young woman who plays the un-inhibited but does not really seem to be able to avoid the greatest fear of all – becoming emotionally involved – and the young man who seems to be the dullest man a woman has ever met, but gives the feeling that he hides a secret in his soul and not only in the trunk of his car. This could be a pure sexual relation, and the two characters do not even have names in the film, or are interested about each other names, in the good tradition started by Last Tango in Paris. There is almost no sex in this film, just a lot of talk about sex, and the feeling is that if they would have done it the story and the film would have had no reason to be. The making and breaking of the relation between the two is the thing.
Such films rely to a large extent on actors, and the two two young actors do a fine job. Keren Berger is at her best, the typical Israeli Girl (or one of the types), lovely, verbose, fragile – it's hard not to like her character. Yaron Brovinsky who also participated in the writing of the script together with the director is the Guy, his character is apparently harder to crack, but the revelation towards the final of the movie will throw him in a different light (which makes sense completely). A few well known Israeli actors (Keren Mor, Dir Benedek) among them support the film with short appearances. They are the characters that may be making of Tel Aviv a different city than the dull landscape that is only a background here, but this would be a different type of fabric than the two-characters anti-romantic story that makes this agreeable movie.