© X-Verleih/Warner Bros.

Liebesleben (Love Life)
Israel/Germany 2007

Opening 8 Nov 2007

Directed by: Maria Schrader
Writing credits: Maria Schrader, Zeruya Shalev, Laila Stieler
Principal actors: Neta Garty, Rade Serbedzija, Tovah Feldshuh, Stephen Singer, Ishai Golan

Jara (Netta Garti) is a young woman who has her life in order – she is happily married to an adoring husband and her thesis adviser has a job at the university lined up for her. As an only child, she is devoted to her parents and remains an important focus in their lives. One day Arie (Rade Sherbedgia), an old college friend of her father’s, shows up, causing her parents some distress and arousing Jara’s interest. She slowly becomes obsessed with this figure from her parents’ past and is drawn to him, fascinated by his virile directness and detached eroticism. She risks personal and professional satisfaction, neglecting both her husband and her graduate studies, in favor of a shabby affair. Jara, however, is no emotional match for Arie, allowing him to belittle and humiliate her in exchange for a few sordid thrills which leave her feeling empty and used, but continuing to go back for more. It is only when Jara finally learns of Arie’s role in her family history that she is able to let go.

Garti and Sherbedgia portray an awkward May-December couple, but their selfish characters seem made for each other. As Jara’s parents, Tovah Feldshuh, the always-suffering Jewish mother, and Stephen Singer, the loving father who prefers the sanctity of the family to the truth, provide comic relief as well as pathos. In the end Jara “finds herself” and is able to tie up her loose ends neatly, but I felt more compassion for her parents and the difficult sacrifices they had made than for their self-absorbed daughter. (Erica Fox Zabusky)

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