The Day After I'm Gone

 

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A promising but not always effective tale of family from a new writer/director.

 
Day After I'm Gone, The
  

For a first feature this is a work made with a sense of assurance. The director, who comes from Israel, is Nimrod Eldar and not just in the steady pacing but also in the avoidance of any sense of melodrama it is   done with confidence. To that extent this is a welcome debut, but Eldar is the writer too and as a storyteller he is rather less successful.

 

The tale that he has chosen to tell is set initially in Tel Aviv and the central figure is a veterinary surgeon, Yoram played by Menashe Noy. The opening scenes lead us to suppose that Yoram's relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Roni (Zohar Meidan), will be this film's chief focus. At the outset Roni has gone missing for two or three days but Yoram is slow to report this to the police: if he appears detached it is because this kind of thing has happened before and because Roni is behaving in ways that can often be expected of a rebellious teenager - as her father puts it she is giving him hell. However, although she quickly reappears, she also attempts suicide which underlines just how critical the situation is.

 

The familiarity of adolescent misbehaviour is such that Eldar can be forgiven for not filling in the individual details in this respect. He does, nevertheless, incorporate what could well be a key factor, the death within the last year of Rachel, Roni's mother. It is indicated that Yoram's loss of his wife in her mid-fifties was a tragedy and, when the second half of The Day After I'm Gone proves to be set outside Tel Aviv - it takes place when Yoram and Roni together visit Rachel's family - this death seems to become more pertinent being directly or indirectly central to so many of their conversations. Indeed, one starts to wonder if the tragedy had features beyond being an early death and if that will be revealed in due course.

 

This visit brings into play a number of family members and neighbours, characters that could be better defined. Similarly, this fresh location is relevant to discussions about the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but here too things could be more clearly stated for foreign viewers (a passing reference to BDS had me checking it out afterwards to discover that this stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, a Palestinian movement aimed at promoting boycotts against Israel). However, whether looking for social or political comment or treating the tale as a personal drama, all the threads seem to end inconclusively. That applies regardless of whether it is the death of the mother or the troubled bond between father and daughter that is viewed as being the spine of the drama. One admires the way in which a potential melodrama has been pared down to something more quietly realistic aided by the playing of a sound cast, but when it comes to making the various plot elements cohere in a meaningful way Eldar is much less sure-footed .

  

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Menashe Noy, Zohar Meidan, Alon Neuman, Sarit Vino-Elad, Sharon Hacohen, Claudia Dulitchi, Ben Kippris, Arie Adler, Eli Muallem, Miri Aloni, Yahav Viner, Howard Rypp, Evelin Kachulin.

 

Dir Nimrod Eldar, Pro Jonathan Doweck, Leon Edery, Moshe Edery, Nimrod Eldar and Eitan Mansuri, Screenplay Nimrod Eldar, Ph Itay Marom, Art Dir John Yonatan Jacoby, Ed Nimrod Eldar, Costumes Hila Royzenman.

 

Spiro Films/Cinema Group/United King Films-MUBI.
96 mins. Israel/France. 2019. Rel: 18 June 2020. Available on MUBI. No Cert.