Friday, January 11, 2013


I recently watched this Israeli film at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF), which is happening in Pune from January 10th through 17th. The festival opened in a sombre mood with Epilogue, directed by Amir Manoz. This film has already been showered with many accolades in other film festivals and it certainly speaks for today's elderly across the world.

Hayuta and Berl reside in a tiny, decrepit apartment, in a low income neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Their somewhat painful, yet comfortably familiar routine is disturbed, when a welfare officer visits them to assess their "fitness levels", by conducting a short but humiliating exercise. Although the incident itself is small enough to ignore, Berl and Hayuta's pent up frustrations get ignited by this one event and both express it in their own ways. The movie is open ended but the beauty of this film is in the details.

In his youth, Berl has been the follower of the romantic Jewish socialist movement, which in spite of its failure, is still alive in his heart. He remembers himself as a revolutionary. But the couple find themselves lost and ignored, and in Hayuta's words, irrelevant in the new wealth consuming world. They grow older with an expectation that people would care for each other in the end, but find themselves left alone. In addition to the grief of failed dreams, now in their eighties, they also have to face the reality of failing health, and not enough money to cover the cost of medication. In a touching scene, Hayuta slowly takes off one item at a time from her list at the pharmacy, to fit the most urgent medicines within her budget. She has to let go of her insulin in the end, but the young man at the check out takes pity on her and brings it to her outside the shop as she is on her way out.

Another outstanding element of this film is the use of humor, even at the saddest turns in the storyline. The humor transcends the nationality/cultural background of the actor-directors  because it comes naturally, as it would between any couple who has spent their entire life together. And the plot also goes beyond the film as it is our reality too, especially in the developed world, where the populations are aging. Social welfare looms over many European economies as the next big peril. However, when you are in the prime of your life, it is hard to imagine just how lonely and helpless you could become when you are sick and helpless towards the end of your life. These people often end up being an election statistic but it must be a very emotional period of their lives, when they look back with happiness, pride or regret and look forward with apprehension, as they go through the aches and discomforts of their present.

PS: For some reason, Google doesn't let me save images on my computer. Is it me or Google?

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