Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Venice '11 Review: 'The Exchange' An Odd, Half-Interesting Follow Up To 'The Band's Visit'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 7, 2011 at 5:21AM

"The Band's Visit" was something of a runaway success when it started doing the rounds in 2007. The feature debut of Israeli director Eran Kolirin, it told the story of an Egyptian police orchestra who become stranded in an Israeli desert town. Warm and witty, it became the best-reviewed foreign film of 2008, and was controversially denied the chance to be Israel's Oscar entry because of the rule that no more than 50% of films' dialogue can be in English. It's taken Kolirin a little time to follow it up, but that sophomore film has arrived, premiering today in Venice, and it's a definite about-turn from its predecessor.
0


"The Band's Visit" was something of a runaway success when it started doing the rounds in 2007. The feature debut of Israeli director Eran Kolirin, it told the story of an Egyptian police orchestra who become stranded in an Israeli desert town. Warm and witty, it became the best-reviewed foreign film of 2008, and was controversially denied the chance to be Israel's Oscar entry because of the rule that no more than 50% of films' dialogue can be in English. It's taken Kolirin a little time to follow it up, but that sophomore film has arrived, premiering today in Venice, and it's a definite about-turn from its predecessor.

Inspired in part by Kolirin's experience on the road promoting his last film (the equivalent of how a band's second album tends to be songs about being in a touring rock band, we suppose...), "The Exchange" is an absurdist, existential comedy without many laughs -- not necessarily a criticism in and of itself, but it's hard to argue that the film is wholly successful, even if there's some interesting ideas, strong performances and well-achieved filmmaking at hand.


Oded and Tami (film newcomers Rotem Keinan and Sharon Tal) are a young married couple living in an unnamed Israeli city. He's a physicist and university lecturer, studying for his PhD, she's a recently-graduated architect, looking for a job. One day, Oded forgets something, and returns home in the afternoon, seeing his apartment in an entirely new way, and from there, the idea of looking at his own life out of context becomes something of an obsession, particularly once he discovers his neighbor Yoav (Dov Navon) shares his new interest.

It's an idiosyncratic premise, the only major filmic reference point that we can think of being Christopher Nolan's debut "Following" (although it's very short story-like in its construction) but even that doesn't quite compare, particularly given the mostly comic spin that Kolirin puts on matters. He describes his own experience, of becoming addicted to the string of hotel rooms on the press circuit, as the inspiration, and he certainly gets across the effects, if not the appeal, quite well; Oded visibly lightens the first time he takes a day off work, simply so he can return to his own home and reexamine it.

The director also has some smart things to say about voyeurism, as usual linked to the audience: Oded, in his new role of looking from the outside in, doesn't step in to help when his wife has car trouble on the way to an important meeting, or when a man falls ill in the street (in the film's most impressive shot, a long one that pans from side to side, following a cyclist). Unfortunately, the impassivity, and air of general ennui, makes it hard to care about Oded, despite a strong debut performance from Keinan. Fortunately, Tal is excellent as Tami, taking an underwritten character and investing her with real sympathy -- although it unbalances the film somewhat: it's partially about the disintegration of a relationship, but almost as soon as Oded's alienation begins, you're screaming at Tal to leave him.

It also wraps up abruptly, coming to a close just as things are getting interesting (the film's emotional climax, which involves the characters watching a video of a karaoke take on Carole King's "You've Got A Friend," is one of the best), and you feel that, while Kolirin has an interesting premise, he didn't quite know what to do with it.

Visually, the film uses an interesting backdrop of Israeli concrete architecture and marble-walled apartment buildings, all shot with a brownish tinge by "The Band's Visit" DoP Shai Goldman. But it can't quite be kept from being a little bland -- there's only so many times you can shoot a car park or a motorway flyover if you're not a real visual poet, and the director ain't there yet. It's not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination (although it received the loudest collection of boos at the festival so far, surprisingly), but neither is it a fully realized one. [C]

This article is related to: Foreign Films, Review, Foreign Directors, The Exchange, Eran Kolirin, Venice


The Playlist

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


E-Mail Updates