out of sight 88 298.
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OUT OF SIGHT - *
Directed by Dani Syrkin. Written by Noa Greenberg and Noach Stolman. Hebrew title: L'marit Ayin. 83 minutes. In Hebrew with English titles.
With Tali Sharon, Assi Dayan, Sandra Sadeh, Avigail Harari, Hadas Yaron, Guy Loel, Yisrael Poliakov, Klil Horesh Parhi Dekel
In a movie that opens after a friend of the main character has committed suicide, you can be pretty sure that the reason for the tragedy will soon come to light. This reason usually isn't something that can be summed up as depression, but generally involves a deep, dark secret that the main character must unravel. This was a tired formula when Thomas Vinterberg used it for Celebration a number of years ago, but the Danish director managed to make his story of siblings looking into the death of their abused sister memorable and fresh.
However Dani Syrkin, who won the Ophir Best Director Award for Out of Sight, wasn't able to breathe new life into this cliche'. An added problem is that he's mixed his cliche's, so the heroine, Yaara (Tali Sharon), who returns from her graduate studies in America after the suicide of her cousin Talia, happens to be both blind and the only person in the film with any insight into why Talia might have taken her life. This is the second blind-person-blessed-with-inner-wisdom to be featured in an Israeli film this year (the first was in Year Zero) and the idea isn't getting any more interesting.
How predictable is this story? After I saw a 30-second clip from the film at the Ophir Awards last fall, I guessed the secret and could pretty accurately have summarized the entire plot. A movie with a predictable plot can still be good, of course, but when the bulk of the story is concerned with uncovering a secret, it helps for that secret to be interesting, moving and surprising. I won't give it away for those who want to see this movie in spite of everything, but suffice it to say that anyone who's ever seen a movie on the Hallmark Channel won't be in suspense for too long. Once you add to this the fact that Talia, who is seen only in flashbacks as an adolescent, has a charming but dominating professor father (Assi Dayan, who does his best in a thankless role), a vague and distracted mother (Sandra Sadeh), and a cute but sullen younger sister (Klil Horesh Parhi Dekel) who plays inexplicably malicious pranks on Yaara, you get the basic idea.
It also comes as no surprise that Talia had a history of promiscuity and abortions, often dropping her boyfriends when they tried to get too close. If all that doesn't give you enough to go on, at the end, a missing suicide note is discovered and it's all spelled out for everyone to see.
The scenes between the two adolescents, well played by Avigail Harari and Hadas Yaron, have some charm. A sequence in which the teenage Talia goads a shy and inexperienced Yaara into a sexual encounter she isn't ready for is well conceived and disturbing. But too many of these scenes are hostage to the plot and exist just to set the stage for the eventual revelation of the secret.
Another cliche' is that in all the present-day sections, the color is washed out to the point where the film is almost in black and white. But in the flashbacks to adolescence, the colors are vivid and lush, with especially bold reds and pinks. After the truth comes out and Talia gets a sense of closure, the present day is suddenly flooded with brilliant color.
The film is most successful when it dwells on the details of how the very independent Yaara copes with her blindness. When she is seated in a room, waiting for a doctor to come in, she folds up her white cane, so he'll react to her as a person before he notices her disability. The director is meticulous about showing how sounds give her a sense of the world she cannot see.
Tali Sharon gives a strong performance in a very demanding role. Let's hope she appears next in a film with a more interesting script.