Review – EPILOGUE (Amir Manor, 2012, Israel)

EpilogueposterEpilogue marks the feature debut of Amir Manor, who wrote and directed the film. It follows a day in the life of an octogenarian Israeli couple coming to terms with their old age. Throughout the film, the man Berl (Yosef Cameron) and the woman Hayuta (Ruvka Gur) must deal with the physical and mental implications of their inevitable ageing process.

The film begins with an uncomfortable scene in which a pushy social-security nurse obliges them to reply to various questions and perform some daily exercises in front of her so that she can determine whether they are eligible for state aid. We realize that they are poor and hardly able to pay for the medicine they need to survive. Just as harshly real is the disenchantment they experience on an intellectual level. This is particularly true of Berl, who was a leader of the Israeli Labour movement of the 1940s and still dreams of setting up a cooperative and charity initiative. Later in the movie, Hayuta will point out to him the world has changed and that “coop” no longer means what it used to – it is the name of a chain store. Indeed, after Berl has a heated political altercation with a radio jockey live on the air, we find him selling books written by the same political thinkers who inspired him in his life.

As mentioned, Epilogue embraces a compact day-in-the-life structure during which the couple is separated and scenes of their daily errands are cross-cut. Cinematographer Guy Raz perfectly depicts the two’s alienation by fixing them at the centre of his middle shots and leaving the other people they interact with mostly outside of the frame or walking in and out of it. It’s difficult to get past the fact that these octogenarians are able to stand on their own feet for an entire day, walking all over town. Furthermore, their daily errands are nothing but a succession of a mixed bag of clichés. The observations of the futility of the political reforms of previous generations are excellently understated. However, the added personal backdrop of their son living in New York City and rarely speaking to his father is superfluous.

Gur and Cameron deliver some excellent understated performances, allowing the wrinkles on their faces to represent their innermost emotions. Truly, the best aspect of the film is that it is not as sad as one may be inclined to think. Though Epilogue has a sense of melancholia; Hayuta and Berl still have each other. Their final candle-lit confrontation, almost as interesting as the promising opening sequence, begins with Hayuta stating that they are irrelevant and a burden to society. Shortly thereafter, however, they decide to go out for a late night slice of pizza, and as they share it, we see a happy, youthful glint in their eyes. These, we believe, are the moments that make their lives still worth living. – ★★★

EPILOGUE || 2012, Israel || Drama || Directed by – Amir Manor / Produced by – Assaf Amir / Written by – Amir Manor / Cinematography by – Guy Raz / Music by – Ruth Doloris Weiss / Editing by – Iris Ozer / Starring – Yosef Cameron, Rivka Gur, Efrat Ben-Zur, Itay Turgeman / Running time: 90 mins.

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