At the Jerusalem Film Festival this week, I had the opportunity to view Savi Gabizon’s new feature film, Longing. It is an extremely well-made and compelling film about family and bereavement. It is also weird yet touching.
One day, a man’s past lover, who he hasn’t seen in about 20 years, comes to tell him that they had a lovely son together. It was a long time ago, and she never told him. But now she has come to tell him because their son died about a week before in a terrible car accident, and she felt he would want to know. The man becomes obsessed with the son he never knew. He is a successful businessman, but he puts it all aside to undertake a journey to discover his son – he travels up north to Acre, where the boy and his mother and her husband had been living. There he learns about his son, who he was, who were his friends, and how he lived his life. It turns out that his son was a bit of a loner, played piano, did drugs, and fell in love with his high school French teacher. The film is filled with different characters who knew his son in some way, or with people who have also experienced loss.
But none of this actually tells you what the film is about. It’s about taking care of and defending your child, about caring for him, your responsibility toward him, and even worrying about his future. It’s about obsession, love and longing for what you never had – and all of this is taken to the extreme, even to the absurd.
In his other award-winning films, Shuroo (1990), Lovesick on Nana St. (1995) and Nina’s Tragedies (2003), Savi Gabizon also uses satire and the absurd to make a point about issues of societal disaffection. But here, in Longing, his societal commentary deals with family, loss, and memorializing the dead.
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