Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER -

MOUN­TAIN, drama, not rated, in He­brew with sub­ti­tles, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 3 chiles

Moun­tain is a film of con­vinc­ing re­al­ity with an al­most sur­real twist. Tzvia (Shani Klein) lives with her fam­ily ad­ja­cent to the Jewish ceme­tery on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. Dur­ing the day, her hus­band, Reu­ven (Avshalom Pol­lak), and four chil­dren are away, and Tzvia is alone at home with her sti­fling chores. The prob­lem of her un­ful­filled life is real. Reu­ven, a busy and pre­oc­cu­pied yeshiva teacher, nicely en­gages with his brood, es­pe­cially with the old­est daugh­ter, who is seven, but he mostly takes Tzvia for granted.

Tzvia may be out­wardly de­vout, but she has the clas­sic prob­lem of the mod­ern house­wife: She feels iso­lated and bored. Oc­ca­sion­ally, she reads po­etry — she owns at least one book of po­ems. One night, af­ter she has put the chil­dren to sleep, she walks through the ceme­tery grounds and en­coun­ters a dis­turb­ing sit­u­a­tion. This is one of sev­eral nightly vis­its to the ceme­tery. The kind of es­cape writer/di­rec­tor Yaelle Kayam gives Tzvia feels con­structed and only cir­cu­larly points back to the ques­tion of her bore­dom. Small chil­dren some­times wake up un­ex­pect­edly dur­ing the night, and it is not par­tic­u­larly be­liev­able that Tzvia would risk be­ing away then. There is some­thing Buñuel-like in her es­cape, along with an edge of bru­tal­ity.

Tzvia’s emo­tions are un­der­stand­able — she gets an­gry when her daugh­ter re­fuses to help with chores, and she feels hu­mil­i­ated be­cause her hus­band is un­reach­able. There’s real in­sight into fam­ily life here. It is fit­ting that Tzvia lives near a ceme­tery; with­out the re­lief of a pro­fes­sional or com­mu­nity life, a per­son may well feel like her soul is get­ting buried.

Tzvia finds some so­lace when she talks with the ceme­tery’s Pales­tinian care­taker Abed (Haitham Ibra­hem Omari). When she re­lates to Reu­ven a brief con­ver­sa­tion she had with Abed, he won­ders if he should re­port the ex­change, which he con­sid­ers a trans­gres­sion, to the ceme­tery owner. Tzvia quickly down­plays the mat­ter. Once, a Korean trans­la­tor comes with a bou­quet of flow­ers for a poet buried in the ceme­tery. This is the same poet whom Tzvia oc­ca­sion­ally reads, and she asks the trans­la­tor to re­cite the poem in Korean, so that she can hear how it sounds. For a mo­ment, the beauty of po­etry tran­scends lan­guage, and the sun shines brightly even on the ceme­tery. — Priyanka Ku­mar

Days of the dead: Shani Klein, far left, and Avshalom Pol­lak, far right

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