Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Look: Emilia Clarke, Matt Smith & Jason Clarke In 'Terminator: Genisys,' Plot Details Revealed First Look: Emilia Clarke, Matt Smith & Jason Clarke In 'Terminator: Genisys,' Plot Details Revealed Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More 8 Films That Influenced Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' 8 Films That Influenced Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Listen: 1-Hour Masterclass With Paul Thomas Anderson At The New York Film Festival Listen: 1-Hour Masterclass With Paul Thomas Anderson At The New York Film Festival Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Review: Israeli Award Winner 'S#x Acts' Delivers With Heartbreaking Power

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist December 5, 2013 at 5:13PM

There aren't a whole lot of words to describe that feeling of intimacy where everyone knows each other in the, ah, Biblical sense, but the feelings are not necessarily all-around mutual. Such sentiment pollutes the lives of characters at the heart of "S#x Acts," a powerful Israeli film that follows that conflict as it weighs down one girl with a deadly combination of Mediterranean beauty and middling self-esteem.
0
S#x Acts

There aren't a whole lot of words to describe that feeling of intimacy where everyone knows each other in the, ah, Biblical sense, but the feelings are not necessarily all-around mutual. Such sentiment pollutes the lives of characters at the heart of "S#x Acts," a powerful Israeli film that follows that conflict as it weighs down one girl with a deadly combination of Mediterranean beauty and middling self-esteem.

Six Acts

That girl is Gili (Sivan Levy), a modest high schooler who longs for the touch of laid-back classmate Tomer (Roy Nik), a lanky, disaffected type who appears attractive simply because he doesn't seem to care. While he cannot deny the appeal of being chased by a pretty young crush, his indifference shines through, and his gregarious pal Omri (Eviatar Mor) is more than happy to pick up the pieces. Gili's attraction to Tomer doesn't simply stem from his handsomeness, but also a class issue: when dropped off at home, Gili fakes entering a fancy apartment complex instead of the more modest walk-up across the street where her family actually lives.

Tomer humors Gili, but Omri latches onto the young girl not because of her beauty (although Levy is a gorgeous girl with unforgettably sharp features that suggest Bettie Page as a blade), but because she seems more than willing to showcase her feminine wiles in exchange for running with this crew. Omri comes across like a handsomer version of Joe Francis, always prepared with a witty come-on and a shit-eating grin that suggests his off-the-cuff charm would, in a more fair reality, make him a popular car salesman or, more accurately, a sex-crime prettyboy on a leash behind bars. With every eyebrow-raise, he continues to seduce a reluctant Gili, who regards him as something of a boyfriend even if she's just one of many. A moment when Gili reveals to a gang of girls that she's been sleeping with him reverberates with tension and sadness, as Gili struggles to retain hold of the narrative implying that she is in control of her own exploitation, the implication being that she's free to seduce whomever she likes.

Six Acts

Omri can't resist turning her into something of a groupie, borderline prostituting her for his friends. The one beacon of hope seems to be Shabat (Niv Zilberberg), the only member of the group without the physique of a male model. And Shabat, unfortunately, doesn't have a conscience that stands a chance against his worst urges, revealing himself as something of a traitor to Gili's salvation. The tete-a-tete between them is interesting, in that Gili doesn't view him as a sexual creature simply because of his doughy appearance, and eventually she refuses to acknowledge him as a potential pollutant in her life as much as the other men, working on marching orders from Omri, creating an atmosphere where Gili, without a relevant parental figure, develops an understanding: this is the order of things between men and women, between sexes, between classes, between lifestyles.

There's no real fresh insight to be gained from "S#x Acts," which takes its title from the film's structure (built around six sex acts that seem to intensify). That weakness also works as a strength, the narrow focus allowing a near-confrontational look at one girl stuck in that nexus between preventing and allowing her exploitation. Some will open up the conversation of "Six Acts" by acknowledging that none of the situations fit the "traditional" definition of rape. Others, current company included, can't ignore that each of these six acts are a violation, of trust and identity, that go far beyond the verbalizing of our harmful actions. We mustn't forget, each day one man on a power trip is exploring that edge against a woman, and entire subcultures based around "partying" and emphasizing "youth" seem to encourage it, under the guise of "turning a deaf ear." With its broad, ambiguous title, "Six Acts" reminds us, with heartbreaking power, that sometimes vigilance just isn't enough, and all it takes is an "act" or two to change a life forever.  [A-]

This is a reprint of our review from the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

This article is related to: S#x Acts, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates