Not Mine to Love (1967)

Accompanied by a low-key jazzy score, this is a light and sensual take on the complications of a past romance.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Uri Zohar
1967 | Israel | Drama | 90 mins | 1.37:1 | Hebrew
M18 (passed clean) for sexual scenes

Cast: Oded Kotler, Shai Oshorov, Judith Sole
Plot: Eli takes care of an ex-girlfriend’s child for three days.
Awards: Won Best Actor & Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes); Nom. for Most Promising Newcomer – Male (Golden Globes)
Source: Realwork Studios

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: Asian Restored Classics – Oldham Theatre (Asian Film Archive)
Spoilers: No

Thanks to the Asian Film Archive, I managed to see this rare Israeli film from the late ’60s.  It comes with a big accolade—winner of Best Actor at Cannes—for Oded Kotler who plays a man in his thirties living a comfortable if nondescript life in the city. 

His girlfriend stays over but has to leave for a few days.  Rather serendipitously, his ex-lover calls, (desperately) hoping to drop off her toddler temporarily at his place. 

Not Mine to Love is an interesting work inasmuch as it is not preoccupied with gravitas or getting across any serious themes.  It is very comfortable in its own skin, exploring how complications of a past romance could reignite both good and bad memories. 

And it does so in a light and sensual way, accompanied by a low-key jazzy score.  I think the best way to describe how the film is like is to imagine experiencing an afternoon reverie. 

Kotler’s performance is not exactly top-notch, but his face and eyes are remarkably expressive.  And so is the film’s technique, where director Uri Zohar, certainly inspired by the French New Wave, adopts a playful approach to editing.  His work is certainly more restrained than the likes of Godard for instance, but it shares a similar spirit, where form is flexible. 

In fact, it is difficult to ascertain any kind of meaningful structure inherent in Zohar’s film, but there’s a natural flow to how Kotler’s fleeting state of mind is channelled through flashbacks and, in one clever sequence, involving a poisonous snake. 

Grade: B+

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