Dealing with Crises
A small Jewish family in Jerusalem has an ordinary life until there is an automobile accident and the father disappears. The adults that are left behind deal with his absence and the problems that it causes as best they can and the two children, sons Menachem and David deal with in their own way. One son fills the screen with his desperation and he searches for a way to vent his anger. In fact the camera focuses on the characters as we see their inner struggles. When a father is suddenly missing from a family there seems to be a lack of orientation and in this we see the inner workings of a modern Israeli family in a very personal way. “Tehilim” gives us a lot of questions.
The movie is also religious in the way it looks at the father-son relationship or the lack of a relationship and it is as if one is looking to discover God. The wife and her sons find that Judaism is suited to arguing the age old questions rather than giving the answers to dealing with the present. The film is frustrating in this aspect.
The characters are introduced to us in the opening quarter hour and we meet the Frankel family. The father Eli (Shmuel Vilojni) is the product of a very religious family. Shmuel (Ilan Dar) and Aaron (Yoav Hayit) enjoy the intellectual challenge of Hebrew scripture and the also revel in living their faith. Alma (Limor Goldstein), Eli’s wife, was raised in a secular family. Their son, Menachem (Michael Moshonov) keeps his head covered with a yarmulke while he is at home but takes it off when he leaves the house. Menachem’s relationship with David (Yonathan Alster) is one of bickering but they are very close. While Eli drives his son to school, he jumps a curb in the car and there is a small crash. Eli tells Menachem to go get help and when he returns, David is still in the car but Eli is gone and no one knows where he is. This is the event that is processed by everyone in his own way.
Shmuel and Aaron rely on prayer but Alma cannot abide the intrusion of piety. For her scripture gives no answers and she has boys to raise and a house to run. Menachem also shuns religion and we see a family divided by faith. Moshonov as Menachem steals the film. We seem to feel what he feels and we also become members of the family. This is an amazing film that leads us to look within ourselves as we suffer with the family. Director Raphael Nadjari has made a fill that he can be proud of. It is not often that a movie we see can lead us to thin the way this film does.