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.
After breaking up with his girlfriend because he can’t see himself having children and thus tells her to get an abortion, Hanoch (Lior Ashkenazi) goes on a trip from Israel to France where he starts to basically stalk police officer Reuven (Niels Arestrup). Reuven works in Missing Persons and is ready for retirement after the catastrophic end to a case he worked. But then Hanoch is found, without any ID and refusing to talk, wandering in the dunes near a beach and Reuven is tasked with figuring out who he is.
Unfortunately, La dune proved to be the bland ending to this year’s identities Festival. It didn’t start off badly, but it never manages to build up any tension or make me care for any of the characters.
Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) just returned to his parents’ place after being hospitalised for a suicide attempt. His life is a mess, he is not done yet with the suicide option, he works at his parents’ drycleaning business and he just doesn’t really know what to do. His parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov) try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the sweet, good Jewish girl who knows of Leonard’s problems and wants to take care of him. At the same time, Leonard meets his new neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Michelle is unstable and completely fascinating to Leonard, who falls in love with her.
Two Lovers is an excellent character study – as long as you don’t try to see the ending as happy [though I’m pretty sure that some people will and will be content with that]. It’s wonderfully told and just cemented my respect for James Gray as a filmmaker [whose Little Odessa I absolutely adore].