Goomba Stomp
Berlin Film Festival Film

Berlinale 2019: Settlements are Suicide in Israeli Drama ‘The Day After I’m Gone’


A quiet bereavement drama with international overtones, The Day After I’m Gone uses the theme of suicide as a metaphor for the state of Israel. Slowly peeling layer after layer to reveal the darkened heart underneath, it argues that inaction can often be the worst sin of all. Smart and complex right up until the final act, its power lies in the strength of its two central performances.

Yoram (Menashe Noy) is a veterinarian at a safari park. An early scene indicates his non-committal approach to life: driving along the park, he notices a man standing outside his car. He tries to convince him to get back inside, considering the obvious dangers of hanging around wild rhinos. He talks in vain until a park ranger arrives, shouts angrily, and gets the man back to safety. This scene displays Yoram’s inability to convince anyone to do anything, especially his daughter, Roni (Zohar Meidan), who has been missing for two days.

Yoram files a police report, and they ask him if he knows any of her social media log ins. He does not. He seems concerned, yet she comes home the next day and he doesn’t bother trying to speak to her. The next day, she tries to kill herself, and is saved only by the intervention of the police monitoring online messaging boards. Yoram has no idea how to deal with any of this; he can’t ask his wife for help, as she is already dead — a possible reason why Roni feels so low. A call from his mother-in-law, however, gives him an idea for a road trip and a potential place to bond. They drive across the desert towards one of the most controversial places in the world: a Jewish settlement in Palestinian land.

The Day After I'm GoneIt quickly becomes evident that first-time writer-director Nimrod Eldar has bigger things on his mind than mere family drama. He doesn’t use the occupation as a direct metaphor for Yoram’s inability to connect with Roni, yet the tension with Palestine creates a source of permanent sense of unease for the residents in the settlement, as well as their tense relationship with Yoram. If only it was incorporated into the plot in a more satisfying way. 

A magician they meet on the way says that he can bend spoons, but when Yoram presses him, he refuses to show his trick. This is symptomatic of the film of the whole, which steadfastly refuses to reveal what it’s really about. Is it trying to make a deep statement about problematic elements of the Isreali state, or simply leaving things open to interpretation? This central mystery drives the movie right up until the point that it doesn’t, refusing to commit one way or another. The broader thematic elements eventually serve as a distraction from the serious issue of suicide, depression, and bereavement that The Day After I’m Gone is trying to tackle.

Menashe Noy is suitably subtle as the indecisive father, a man who evidently loves his daughter but cannot find the energy to figure out why she wants to die, and Zohar Meidan complements this performance excellently, digging deep to find real resentment and sadness behind the self-hatred. They make the film worth watching, even if it can’t quite figure out what it wants to say. No one would expect the filmmaker to make an outright criticism of these settlements, yet a little more confrontation seems to be in order. 

The 69th Berlin Film Festival runs February 7, 2019 – February 17, 2019. Visit the festival’s official website for more info.

Credits

Directed by Nimrod Eldar
Written by Nimrod Eldar
Starring Menashe Noy, Zohar Meidan, Alon Neuman
Cinematography by Itai Marom
Edited by Nimrod Eldar
Art Direction by John Yonatan Jacoby
Country: Israel | France |  2019

In Case You Missed It

‘Under the Silver Lake’ is Destined for Cult Status

Ricky D Fernandes

‘Shazam!’ Flashes Like A Wasted Opportunity

Jason Rocha

‘Pet Semetary’ is a Mostly Lifeless Revival

Patrick Murphy

Tom Watches Movies: The Original ‘Pet Sematary’ Still Terrifies After 20 Years

Thomas O'Connor

‘Dragged Across Concrete’ Leaves a Stirring, Indelible Mark

Patrick Murphy

Canadian Film Fest 2019: ‘This Is North Preston’ Lacks Any Backbone

Christopher Cross

Canadian Film Fest 2019: ‘The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova’ Celebrates its Culture

Christopher Cross

A Larry Cohen Retrospective: The Godfather of Guerrilla Filmmaking

Ricky D Fernandes

Canadian Film Fest 2019: ‘Wolves Unleashed – Against All Odds’ Lacks Significance

Christopher Cross

Leave a Comment

5 Shares
Share
Tweet
Reddit
Share
Pin
Pocket
Share