Bizarre love triangle. Asya (Aubrey) on the phone; Gabriel (Bunce) faces up to Adam (Hinds).
The Lost Lover

dir Roberto Faenza
scr Sandro Petraglia, Roberto Faenza
with Ciaran Hinds, Juliet Aubrey, Stuart Bunce, Clara Bryant, Erick Vazquez, Phyllida Law, Cyrus Elias
release UK 19.Jan.01
Israel-Italy-UK/99 2 out of 5 stars
This multi-national film is based on Abraham Yehoshua's novel The Lover about layers of forbidden romance in modern-day Israel. The story is intriguing, but it's such a curious mix that it never really works. And in the end a flat script lets it down badly. Adam and Asya (Hinds and Aubrey) moved from London to Tel Aviv to restart their lives after their young son was tragically killed. But 13 years later, there's nothing left of their marriage beyond muted respect ... and they've never told their perplexed teen daughter Dafi (Bryant) any of this. Then a rather odd young man named Gabriel (Bunce)--a French Jew in Israel to care for his dotty grandmother (Law)--enters their lives, brings joy to Asya for the first time in years, and then promptly disappears. Adam enlists Arab teenager Na'Im (Vazquez) to track him down. And no one realises that Dafi and Na'Im are falling for each other.

The film looks terrific--with a raw edginess to the direction that makes it thoroughly authentic, almost like we're watching real events, not dramatic recreations. And the Arab-Israeli themes are dealt with sensitively and honestly. But the script continually reminds us that this is fiction. In addition to some truly dire dialog, we get voice-overs from almost every character--internal monologs that tell us what everyone is thinking. These prevent us from ever developing a sense of perspective or connection, and they also undermine the interesting performances and the story's offbeat structure. Every time we start to feel sympathy for someone we're pushed away by clumsy theatrics, so by the end we're bored and completely apathetic. This is a real shame, because there's an important film buried under the debris.

[12--adult themes and situations] 16.Jan.01

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"This movie once again teaches us that foreign adaptations to native plots come off simplistic and truly ridiculous. As a young adult actually growing up in Israel, this film seemed one-dimentional and unbelieveble. The 'Lets make love not war' air to it belittles our grave yet complex situation. Furthermore the script does little to honor Yehoshua's classic novel. The British director made many mistakes when trying to capture the two cultures involved (Israeli students would never stand up when a teacher enters the room, for example). Last but not least, in a few months I will be a proud Israeli soldier. This movie like many others portrays the Israeli defence forces as immoral and cruel. As an Israeli and a human activist I think this stereotype is unfounded and general." --Noa Wolfsfeld, Israel 30.Sep.02
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall