16 August 2014 | Nozz
Nice, though I'm not sure what it all centers on
A largish, kooky but lovable bunch of people, each with his own eccentricities. It's a difficult recipe to work with. It's old- fashioned. It's Kaufman and Hart. But Israeli cinema returns to it again and again recently-- LOST ISLANDS, THE WORLD IS FUNNY-- and with considerable success. Shlomo Bar-Aba is the big name in this film. He wasn't such a big name in movies until his tour de force in 2011's FOOTNOTE, and oddly (considering that the director claims he thought of Bar-Aba for this part five years ago) he plays a very similar role: a man who's serious and sensitive about his profession, whose son takes up the same profession and doesn't win his father's respect. We don't like the father's gruffness, we don't like the son's passivity, the son is buffaloed into marriage by a fiancée whom the father doesn't like, and we can somewhat agree with the father on that. There's a sister who escapes into a romanticized version of Arabic culture. What's missing is a level-headed protagonist who can represent the audience's point of view, plus a strong central plot thread or obvious theme. ("Everybody learns something," the screenwriter has said. I guess that's there.) But the characters are colorful enough to keep the film enjoyable, Jerusalem photographs very well, and Bar-Aba proves that FOOTNOTE wasn't a fluke while the other actors rise to the occasion as well.