In many ways, the Israeli film “Longing” is full of contradictions. It is a dark comedy in which lost opportunities for a different life are suspended between hopeful and absurd, laughter and tears, a dream of the future and an unchangeable past.
It begins when Ariel Block (Shai Avivi) meets with his ex-girlfriend and finds out she was pregnant when they broke up 20 years ago. Block, a single and successful Tel Aviv businessman, soon embarks on a journey to Akko (Acre) to connect with the son he never knew existed and will never get to meet.
Avivi draws the audience into his plight as he struggles to explore his new life as a father. Ariel himself is a contradiction — his desire to never have children and his desire to fulfill his fatherly duties; his gentle, kind, open heart and his relentless persistence; his strength in fighting and his calm acceptance of defeat.
His character is deep, easy to connect to, not always easy to like, but someone you want to continue to know after the film ends.
The supporting roles are all well-acted, and writer and director Savi Gabizon made the shots compelling and special without being so different that they disturb the audience’s sensibilities. The story is told artfully through compelling dialogue and moments of silence.
The winner of the Audience Choice award at the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Ophir (Israeli Oscar) for best screenplay, “Longing” approaches complex issues — unrequited love, suicide, drug use, sexuality, child abuse, abortion — but never delves into them. Instead, Gabizon keeps the audience focused on Avivi and his strange and oddly sweet journey to become a father.
For someone who appreciates dark comedies, “Longing” is a great choice.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 30, 7:50 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 10, 5:45 p.m., Springs; Feb. 11, 3:25 p.m., Tara