This is an unexpected discovery from Israel—an assured debut feature about a father and his suicidal daughter that is directed with incredible subtlety and nuance.
Dir. Nimrod Eldar
2019 | Israel | Drama | 98 mins | 2.39:1 | Hebrew
Not rated (likely to be NC16 for some coarse language)
Cast: Younes Bouab, Salah Ben Saleh, Bouchaib Semmak
Plot: A middle-aged single father copes with his teenage daughter’s attempted suicide.
Awards: Nom. for Best First Feature Award (Berlin)
International Sales: Luxbox
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
(Reviewed on screener)
This is one of the finest films to emerge from the Middle East in 2019, and it’s a feature debut. Written and directed by Nimrod Eldar, this Israeli drama is so subtle and nuanced yet it is unbelievable that a seemingly nondescript film like this could possess so much power. Every aspect of the film is handled with assuredness, and in fact Eldar is also credited as producer, editor and sound designer.
His strong control over the film’s craft and narrative pays dividend in this story about a father and his suicidal daughter. Both actors give outstanding performances, and through everyday actions, we sense a huge communication gap between parent and child.
This is where Eldar’s work is at its best because through the use of fleeting mutual glances and little if precise dialogue that doesn’t at all waste a word, he is able to create an intimate emotional world—perhaps even a warm tinge of human connection between father and daughter—amid the coldness and misunderstanding.
The Day After I’m Gone may be a quiet, contemplative film by any standards, but it is never uncompelling. Eldar’s sound design, where he privileges the environmental sounds (e.g. nearby amusement park, or fans cheering at a football stadium) as experienced by the father, helps to modulate his inner feelings—be it annoyance or acceptance.
An unexpected discovery, Eldar’s film is a must-watch and a harbinger of great things to come from this truly talented filmmaker.