Opening 3 Nov 2016
A Tale of Love and Darkness, based on the 2002 autobiography of Amos Oz, is a double memoir centering on Oz's youth and at the same time the early years of the state of Israel. Oz as an older man is the narrator recalling back to 1945, when he (Amir Tessler) was eight years old, up to the war in 1948, which was the end of the British mandate for Palestine It is the story of the trial of integration in a foreign land. The family story centers on his mother (Portman). Romantic Fania loves to tell stories that create a bond between mother and son. They are fantasies many times including her family life in Europe. Father Arieh (Gilad Kahana) is literary and wants to teach Amos how to live in reality.
Both Fania and Arieh hesitate to waive from their European customs and do not integrate fully into Palestinian life. They wear their European identity like a glove—keeping comfortably around them their own type of people, wearing their formal clothing—and never really blend into their new homeland. Fania is ravaged by the change and the destruction caused by World War II and becomes more and more depressed. Amos' childhood consists of years of being quiet while she rests, until the day that Fania commits suicide.
Natalie Portman as director does show the light of love and the darkness of pain, but somehow one doesn't get totally absorbed in Amos' story. I want to read the original book which EVERYONE says is a masterpiece. (Thelma Freedman)