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The Slut: Cannes Review

The Slut
'The Slut'

The Bottom Line

This sexually explicit but dramatically unsatisfying drama will travel on its notoriety alone.

Venue:

Cannes Film Festival, Critics’ Week

Cast:

Hagar Ben Asher, Ishai Golan, Icho Avital

Director/screenwriter:

Hagar Ben Asher

Director Hagar Ben Asher may be the first female director of a legitimate feature to film herself performing in a hardcore sex scene.

CANNES -- Is Hagar Ben Asher the first female director of a legitimate feature to film herself performing in a hardcore sex scene? Encyclopedists of sex in the cinema will have to answer that one, but the heavy sexual element is all that is notable about the forthrightly titled The Slut, a slow-going, rather pointless Israeli drama about an attractive rural woman who just gotta have it. Notoriety of its title and content will attract some attention on the festival circuit and no doubt in Israel, but audiences will have that empty feeling afterwards.

After a shocking opening in which a pickup truck ploughs into a galloping horse that’s crossing the road,  badly injuring it, the film’s first couple of reels are devoted to Tamar (Ben Asher), who sells eggs at her hen farm, enthusiastically servicing several men who come around on a regular basis. All the action takes place just below the frame, but it’s quite evident what’s going and that Tamar is doing it by choice.

When an old acquaintance, Shai (Ishai Golan), a low-key, friendly veterinarian, returns to the area, Tamar sees no reason not to add him to her harem. But Shai offers her more than the others, providing her with some genuine human warmth, perhaps even love, and developing a good relationship with her two young daughters, whose father, or fathers, are never mentioned.

Unlike the other erotic encounters, their big sex scene leaves nothing to the imagination; it’s filmed like many others have been in features for years, except that it’s clearly for real.


After Tamar becomes pregnant, however, she goes into a funk, with eventual results that are both disturbing and perplexing. Searching in vain for any allegorical underpinnings, one is left only with a strange psychological case that is as unexpected as it is unedifying.


A woman with a certain resemblance to Julia Roberts in the hair, eyes and nose, Ben Asher is agreeable to watch but an actress who could have conveyed something of what Tamar’s core is made of might have provided the slim tale with a welcome extra dimension.


The well-composed widescreen visuals evoke the isolation of the dusty landscapes and the film has a quietly methodical nature that reveals a measure of directorial confidence.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Critics’ Week
Production: Transfax Film (Israel), Rohfilm (Germany)
Cast: Hagar Ben Asher, Ishai Golan, Icho Avital, Yoav Levi, Tzahi Levi, Stav Yanai, Daria Forman
Director-screenwriter: Hagar Ben Asher
Director of photography: Amit Yasour
Production designer: Shunit Aharoni
Editor: Asaf Korman
87 minutes