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Review: My Father My Lord

Beautiful through and through, the film has the texture of membranous wings or dreams.

My Father My Lord
Photo: Kino International

We first see him through wobbly stacks of books: Rabbi Eidelman (Assi Ayan), pouring over the Torah as if he were fiercely and devotedly smoothing a child’s kinked head of hair. The camera, so rapt as it peers upward at his holy presence, reflects the honorific point of view of a child: Menahem (Ilan Grif), whose love for his father is incandescent as lightning. Beautiful through and through, the film has the texture of membranous wings or dreams—or an ancient vase with small precarious cracks spread out across its surface. Writer-director David Volach’s subjective use of video technology toys with space and distance, affecting the curiosity of the cherubic Menahem, whose religious studies are distracted by the cooing of a mother dove outside a schoolroom window, and who’s gripped by the sight of a terrified dog leaping into an ambulance after its hospital-bound master. “Do dogs have souls?” he asks his rabbi father, whose impugning answer baffles the young boy’s mind. A miniscule folk painting next to the epic-sized fresco that is Mother and Son, My Father My Lord’s gripping sense of empathy, parlayed through a Sokurovian fixation on faces and the love and fear transmitted between beaming sets of eyes, practically burns a hole through the screen. But the film is more than just a twee expression of a boy’s love for his paterfamilias—it is also a study of faith. In no less than three animals, Menahem is bewitched by tropes that he recognizes in his own human interactions, a curiosity that his father doesn’t share. This leads to devastating chaos, trickily and sensitivity rendered both as a rejection of patriarchal might and orthodox belief and graduation to higher state of metaphysical consciousness.

Cast: Assi Ayan, Sharon Hacohen Bar, Ilan Grif Director: David Volach Screenwriter: David Volach Distributor: Kino International Running Time: 74 min Rating: NR Year: 2007 Buy: Video

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