Friday, May 12, 2017

The Lighter Side of Death in Israel


A Comedy About Death?

By Skip Sheffield

“One Week and a Day” is a curious little film from Israel opening May 12 at FAU’s Living Room Theaters, Regal Shadowood and Movies of Delray. Considering our large Jewish population and its warm reception in Israel it may attract an audience looking for something offbeat.
Writer Asaph Polonsky, who also directs, has essentially written a comedy about death. The title refers to the traditional Jewish shiva, or week of mourning. The deceased, Ronnie Spivak, we never meet, but we learn he died young, of cancer.
Eyal Spivak (Shai Avivi), the boy’s father, is not taking his son’s death well. We first see him playing ping-pong with Zooler (Tomer Kapon), a neighbor boy and friend of the deceased. When Zooler’s parents drop by to deliver a salad (friends traditionally drop off food during shiva), Eyal tries to lock them out. Eyal’s wife Vicky (Evgenia Dodina) intervenes and accepts the salad. Later she finds Eyal has thrown it into the garbage can.
Vicky urges Eyal to get on with his life. Eyal seems determined to prolong his mourning. Zooler comes up with an alternate plan. He scores a bag of marijuana and shows Eyal how to roll a joint. Evidently there is good weed in Tel Aviv. Eyal finds great solace in being stoned, and spends the rest of the film in a dope haze. As you can imagine, this causes some practical problems. Eyal and Zooler are an odd comic duo. Shai Avivi is a fine deadpan comic. Tomer Kapon is a puppy-dog foil to a man his father’s age.
The movie takes a serious yet hopeful turn toward the end. As a goy I do not understand all Jewish traditions, but I do know about death and mourning. Because of this I find “One Week and a Day” oddly uplifting.

Writer-director Asaph Polonsky will be present at screenings at 12:30, 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday, May 14 at Movies of Delray and 7 p.m. Saturday at Shadowood. He will also be at Living Room Theaters at 7:20 p.m. Saturday and 11:45 a.m. Sunday, May 15. 

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