Winner of Best Screenplay during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Israeli film Restoration was my dark horse selection this year at VIFF. I try to pick at least one film during each festival that falls outside my usual repertoire, and although the storyline seemed simple at first, there were plenty of complexities to explore in this film.
After his longtime business partner dies in the arms of a prostitute, Yakov Fidelman (Sasson Gabai) is left to discover that his furniture restoration shop is in financial shambles. Fidelman’s estranged son Noah (Nevo Kimchi), who’s a lawyer, sees no hope in maintaining the store and proposes to build apartments and office space above it. One day Fidelman’s new apprentice, Anton (Henry David), finds an old piano in the workshop; an 1882 Steinway that, with the appropriate restorations, would be worth enough to pay off Fidelman’s debt and save his store.
Restoration is an appropriate metaphor for the complex relationships between the characters in this film. You have Yakov, whose depression and angst create an uncomfortable tension throughout the theatre. You have his handsome apprentice Anton who inappropriately fancies – and pursues – his pregnant daughter-in-law. And you have a father/son relationship so damaged, only the purest of human events can bring them back together. I really enjoyed the story, despite the depressing undertones. Tel Aviv is a vibrant, modern city but you wouldn’t know it from the dark, dreary scenes, which I thought were unnecessary.
3/5 STARS – RECOMMEND
Restoration has one more screening during VIFF, scheduled for Monday, Oct 10th at 8:00pm at Empire Granville 7. If you’re in Vancouver next week, be sure to check it out!