Yom Yom, the second chapter in Amos Gitai’s “City Trilogy,” boasts a wry buoyancy absent from Devarim and Kadosh, the more dour pictures bracketing it. Not that Gitai’s Israel here seems any less volatile; a pedestrian flying into a rage after the protagonist’s car nearly hits him in a street fair is just the most explicit eruption in a land where simmering tension appears casually woven into the flow of everyday life. The difference is that, while continuing his concerns for cultural rootlessness and anguish, Gitai addresses them with a lighter and ultimately more hopeful hand, occasionally even allowing human vigor to break through the straitjacket of modern ennui. Still, it’s “a country of psychos” to Moshe (Moshe Ivgy), the film’s presiding neurotic and—by virtue of being a mamma’s boy, an unlikely womanizer, and an inert whiner—a neat synthesis of the three main protagonists in Devarim. Waffling between unsatisfied wife Didi (Dalit Kahan) and needy mistress Grisha (Israeli supermodel Natali Atiya, dutifully naked), Moshe bitches and moans so much about life that even Woody Allen would tell him to zip it already. Indeed, Gitai’s utter lack of concern for mise-en-scène could match Allen’s, but, if his use of the port city of Haifa is less distinctive than Allen’s tributes to New York, Gidai’s is by far the more diversified metropolis. Unlike the filmmaker’s snapshots of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Haifa offers common ground for a peaceful coexistence of Arab and Jewish characters, most movingly illustrated by Moshe’s multiracial parents (Hanna Meron, Yussef Abu Warda), an older generation trying to hang on to their values and memories in a changing landscape. As usual with Gitai, much of the work falls flat; characters are suddenly given to cardboard philosophical asides (“Blood. Earth. Man. They’re all linked together.”), and various members of the ensemble, like Juliano Mer’s layabout lothario or Keren Mor’s deadpan traffic controller, play like twee afterthoughts. In any case, the long take of Jewish and Muslim prayers ushered in a moving car for the death of a loved one is trenchantly poignant, particularly coming from a director more prone to end on grimmer conflicts.
If Haifa was meant as vibrant counterpart to Gitai's other cities, you'd hardly know it from Kino's pasty transfer, where even the sun looks drained of luster. Dialogue is clear, if on the tepid side.
Gitai's questioning rigor, unexpectedly seasoned with some wry humor, makes his ode to uneasy multiracial union worth at least a rental.