A Tale of Love and Darkness
Director: Natalie Portman
Writer: Natalie Portman
Based on: Amos Oz‘ autobiographical novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Gilad Kahana, Amir Tessler, Moni Moshonov, Ohad Knoller, Makram Khoury, Alexander Peleg
Seen on: 13.11.2016
Amos (Amir Tessler) lives with his parents Fania (Natalie Portman) and Arieh (Gilad Kahana) in Jerusalem. They are a happy family, although Fania misses her family in Tel Aviv, with whom communication is difficult due to the political circumstances. Amos grows up close to his mother who loves to tell him stories. At least until she becomes more and more depressed.
A Tale of Love and Darkness is not a bad film for a first feature from Portman as director. It does have a few weaknesses, but it certainly shows a lot of promise for her as both writer and director.
A Tale of Love and Darkness suffers from too much Voice Over – which often happens, especially with book adaptations – and certainly has lengths, but it doesn’t really have any catastrophic weaknesses or failures, at least on a technical level.
Storywise, I wasn’t too happy with the romanticization of [SPOILER] Fania’s suicide [/SPOILER]. It’s a difficult topic and it’s not easy too handle, so it’s not surprising that it may go wrong, but we’ve seen too much of that particular romanticization already. Although I very much enjoyed when the film used romanticization with a sense of humor like when Fania talks about the image of the revolutionary she wanted to fall in love with. Generally I really enjoyed Fania’s stories.
Portman didn’t only prove herself to be a competent director and writer, but – as usual – gave a beautiful performance. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if Fania is that central there as well, but in the film she absolutely takes center stage. Of course, that does carry a bit of a vanity project vibe, but since women usually don’t get to make vanity projects anyway, my answer to that shall be “so what, good for her”.
The film is very watchable, tackles interesting topics in a fascinating setting, making it very much valuable to watch. And it leaves me curious to see what Portman will do in the director’s chair next.