Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review - Three Days and a Child (1967)

A jewel of the blink-and-you-missed-it Israeli New Wave, Uri Zohar's stylish, charmingly desultory feature follows Eli (Oded Kotler), a shiftless graduate student living in Jerusalem who agrees to babysit the three year-old son of a former lover. Over a hectic late-summer weekend, he entertains the boy, contemplates abandoning him, rescues him from danger, and considers whether the child may in fact be his, an unsettling prospect for Eli that prompts him to reexamine his past, and question the specious comforts of perpetual bachelorhood. While he undoubtedly draws on early works from the likes of Truffaut, Varda and Rozier for visual inspirationZohar's weighty themes are decidedly personal, and spring largely from biography. The protagonist is defined not just by his youthful urbanity, but also by stints of compulsory military service, and time spent in a kibbutz, or farming cooperative. This specificity of characterization - along with the unusually frank examination of issues like masculinity, sex and familial responsibilities - set this effort apart from others works of a similar mold. As a photographic document, Zohar's film presents striking views of Jerusalem in the time of the Six-Day War. Shot in crisp, high-contrast black and white, it offers surprisingly nuanced depictions of an individual, an incipient nation and an era.