Here We Are

 

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Nir Bergman’s Israeli drama about a father and his autistic son is distinguished by its performances.

 
here we are

 

Over fifty years on, Rain Man still remains the best known film drama in which autism has played a central role. Occasionally there have been documentaries which have also broached this object - among them the recently released The Reason I Jump - but Here We Are is a work which joins the longer list of treatments featuring actors and the acting in this Israeli film by Nir Bergman is one of its strongest points. This is the story of how a father, Aharon Rossman (Shai Avivi), reaches a crisis point over what is best for his autistic son, Uri (Noam Imber), who is now twenty. The two of them have developed a close bond and get on very well together (this is emphasised in the opening scenes which, given the subject-matter, are accompanied by surprisingly jaunty music). However, Aharon’s ex-wife, Tamara (Smadar Wolfman), is convinced that her son has reached a stage when he would benefit from living in a hostel catering for those with special needs.

 

When Tamara seeks to enforce this, the conflict between the parents grows and, when it becomes clear that Uri is adamant that he wants to stay with his father, Aharon runs off with his son and even plans to migrate with him to America to start a new life there. We understand very well why Aharon is acting as he does and his deep love for his son is very evident, but is he doing the right thing?

 

If the acting is the film’s greatest asset (both Avivi and Imber are superb), its one clear weakness is its resolution which needed more detail to be fully persuasive (it feels too rushed and too neat). More open to mixed responses is the film’s presentation of Tamara. One review that I have seen expresses the view that the film not only portrays her sympathetically but emphasises the stubborn inflexibility of Aharon. That was not how I saw it. Certainly Aharon’s brother (Amir Feldman) does criticise him for his behaviour late on, but the film stresses throughout the strong rapport between father and son and seems to invite us to support Aharon. In fact, my own view is that in circumstances like these Tamara is probably taking the wiser view, but the way in which the film portrays her struck me as unsympathetic. I wondered too what feminist viewers in particular would make of a late scene in which Tamara suddenly concedes that Aharon has better instincts than she has when it comes to understanding their son.

 

Bergman directs very competently, but I felt that he was giving us a male view and that made me uneasy. Yet I could be wrong - and ought to be wrong - since I subsequently discovered that the film’s screenplay is by Dana Idisis and that she is a woman drawn to the subject because of an autistic brother in her own family. Perhaps the best advice is to see the film and judge this for yourself. In the process you will certainly be touched and will have two outstanding performances to admire.

 

Original title: Hine Anachnu.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Shai Avivi, Noam Imber, Smadar Wolfman, Efrat Ben Zur, Amir Feldman, Sharon Zelikovsky, Natalia Faust, Uro Klauzner.

 

Dir Nir Bergman, Pro Eitan Mansuri and Jonathan Doweck, Screenplay Dana Idisis, Ph Shai Goldman, Pro Des Nitzan Zifrut, Ed Ayala Bengad, Music Matteo Curallo, Costumes Liron Cohen.

 

MK2/Rabinovich Foundation/The Israel Film Council/Rosamont/Spiro Films-Studio Soho Distribution.
95 mins. Israel/France/Italy. 2020. Rel: 23 July 2021. Cert. 12A.