Combustible Celluloid
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With: Yael Abecassis, Uri Ran Klauzner, Hanna Laszlo, Ronit Elkabetz
Written by: Amos Gitai, Marie-Jose Sanselme, based on the novel by Yehoshua Kenaz
Directed by: Amos Gitai
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Hebrew with English subtitles
Running Time: 122
Date: 09/07/2003

Alila (2003)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Complex Apartments

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Israeli director Amos Gitai jumps back from his recent slump and delivers an amazing film every bit as satisfying as his masterpiece Kippur (2001). In the tradition of recent films like Intermission, Alila follows a seemingly disconnected group of twelve characters for two hours. Over the course of the film, we come to realize that they all live in -- or are connected with someone who lives in -- a certain Tel-Aviv apartment building, and that they mostly know each other, at least by sight. One beautiful woman (Yael Abecassis) meets her married lover (Amos Lavie) there and has noisy sex with him. She confides her secret with her best friend (Hanna Laszlo), who in turn has trouble with her son, an army deserter. On it goes, providing a fascinating balance of old and new, comfortable and paranoid, etc. Paying homage to Max Ophuls, Gitai films the proceedings in a beautifully orchestrated series of long traveling shots, reportedly using only 40 cuts in the entire film. His confidence shows nowhere clearer than during the opening credits, which are narrated aloud by Gitai himself in the manner of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons.

DVD Details: Kino's DVD comes with an Amos Gitai filmography, with trailers for Kadosh (1999), Kippur (2000), Kedma (2002) and Alila, a still gallery, and optional English subtitles.

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