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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film we love to hate

Opinions differ, but it’s unusual that everyone dislikes one film. How did it ever get to the festival in the first place? Does the director have special connections with the management? Did the organizers purposely include something controversial? Are we missing something good that everyone else can see? In this case, the film was The Exchange (Hahithalfut), seen by five of our nine critics who awarded ratings from 0 to ** on a five-star system. Read what Jenny and Pat thought. (BT)

 

If you wish to fritter away an hour and a half of your busy life, then this is the movie for you. Perhaps you will be able to discover what the director Eran Kolirin (photo above) was trying to do. His feature film debut was The Band’s Visit and it won him not only world-wide acclaim but also over fifty prestigious awards. This would suggest that his is a talent to be reckoned with but The Exchange is a great disappointment.

 

Oded (Rotem Keinan) is a university lecturer in a nondescript university in an equally nondescript town somewhere in Israel. Work isn’t very demanding so he often pops home for a lunchtime session in the bedroom with his wife Tami (Sharon Tal) who gives the impression that she would rather continue working on the architectural model she is building to impress a future employer. One day Oded comes home as usual but neither his wife nor her work are there. Life appears to have returned to normal when he returns home that evening, but the same thing happens the next lunchtime. Oded is perplexed. He looks around the flat as if he is seeing it for the first time and then goes outside to see if things look different and as far as we can tell they don’t.

At this point the movie should have taken off because our interest was engaged and we were settled into our seats waiting for the story to unfold. A talent such as Mr Korilin’s should have made an intriguing movie with such an unusual beginning to the plot. Unfortunately, he didn’t, and instead he has given us a movie which is an incomprehensible, boring and perplexing waste of time. It ends with Oded and Tami watching their neighbours’ holiday movies when invited to supper in their flat. The puzzled expressions on their faces as they watch the couple’s karaoke evening holiday antics will be mirrored by your equally puzzled expression as you try to make sense of this movie. (JM)

 

Dull and monotonous, that sums up both this movie and its main character. Oded (Rotem Keinan) is a young physicist and university lecturer in Tel Aviv. Every day he routinely rides the same bus with the same bus driver to work. Every afternoon like clockwork the same well-dressed neighbors seem to be waiting with him at the elevator in his sleek concrete and marble apartment building. Every evening he mechanically makes love to his lovely wife Tami (Sharon Tal). One day at work Oded forgets something and returns to his home in the middle of the afternoon. From that moment on everything changes. He sees his apartment in a totally different way. He becomes detached from his own life and befriends his neighbor Yoav (Dov Navon). Together they spend a night in an air raid shelter. During the day they stand outside empty apartments and shout insults and obscenities into empty corners. At the end of the film Oded stays on the bus to the end of the line where two men are playing beach tennis on the sand. Hearing the sound of the ball being hit back and forth, I suddenly awoke from a boredom induced trance. The sound was pleasingly reminiscent of and a tribute to the final scene in Antonioni’s Blow Up where fantasy and reality mesh. The difference is I had felt deeply about Antonioni’s Thomas; Oded is difficult to warm to. (PF)

 

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