Carmel -- Film Review

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Prolific Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai returns with another typically opaque meditation on his war-torn country.

With its alternating long takes, slow pans and extended voice-overs, "Carmel" is business as usual where Gitai is concerned, meaning his adherents will likely be satisfied but for many others, as evidenced during a Toronto International Film Festival screening, it can be a real theater emptier.

Relying heavily on readings featuring the voice of Jeanne Moreau and snatches of music from classical to blues to punk rock, Gitai traces his land's ages-old history of conflict from the Middle Ages to a modern day army encampment.

While the film is undoubtedly among his most personal, incorporating his mother's letters and stories, Gitai (he also appears as himself, lamenting "it's not easy being a father in Israel these days") still firmly adheres to his now trademark non-linear style.

Call it forced naturalism.

Although the overlapping visual and aural imagery has its admittedly poetic moments, the overall effect is more monotonous than moving -- unless you'd be referring to the constant moving done by all those audience members from their seats to the exits.

Production companies: AGAV Films, Inter Europe, Global Media, Hamon Afakot
Cast: Amitai Ashkenazi, Amos Lavie, Ben Eidel, Jeanne Moreau
Director-screenwriter: Amos Gitai
Executive Producers: Michael Tapuach, Laurent Truchot
Producers: Amos Gitai, Michael Tapuach, Laurent Truchot, Augustus Pelliccia
Director of photography: Stefano Falivene
Production designer: Miguel Falivene
Editor: Isabelle Ingold
No rating, 93 minutes
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