Every person reacts in a different way in the face of grief and loss. That’s the main topic of One Week and a Day, a bittersweet Israeli drama written and directed by American-born Israeli-raised Asaph Polonsky.
For a debut, the filmmaker managed to associate narrative clarity and very observant details to a slightly offbeat tale, which, despite the heaviness related to the subject itself, ended up being hilarious on various fronts.
“…she kind of tolerates this weird phase he’s going through.”
The story begins on the last day of the Spivaks’ sitting shiva, a seven-day mourning period in which the coupled stays at home and receives visitors. Eyal (Shai Avivi) and Vicky Spivak (Evgenia Dodina) are still numbed by the loss of their only son, Ronnie, due to cancer. However, their postures after this painful reverse are completely divergent and their behaviors are a reflex of their state of minds.
While Vicky suffers in silence but tries hard to go back to her normal life, Eyal is completely lost and disoriented. Despite having everything more or less organized in her head, Vicky may forget the dentist appointment, but immediately makes an effort to compensate the fault. She struggles to keep focused and on the right track, and even returns to school to teach again.
In turn, Eyad ignores work and persists in going back to the hospice where his son spent his last days. His intention is to retrieve his son’s colorful blanket but instead, he ends up stealing medicinal cannabis from a patient. In addition to this, he slaps his neighbor Karen (Carmit Mesilati Kaplan) and then fights her husband, Shmulik (Sharon Alexander). Yet, for our surprise, he starts hanging out with their neighbors’ immature son, Zooler (Tomer Kapon), a sushi delivery guy who pretends to play an imaginary guitar and helps him rolling a joint for a first stoned experience. His wife’s facial expression shows disapproval of his conduct, but she kind of tolerates this weird phase he’s going through.
“…brims with hope, resignation, and finally acceptance.”
And that’s how miserable and vulnerable they feel in their mourning process, desperately finding a cure for the endless pain in their souls.
Lots of zany scenes engendered by Polonsky carry a wry humor, at the same time that pushes the viewer to this permanent state of expectation. Thereby, you may expect several oddball situations that keep coming out without previous notice.
Avivi and Dodina don’t let a drop of emotion behind during their memorable performances, regardless how much ridiculous their actions may look. In turn, Kapon conveys a pretty funny stupidity that insults and entertains. The rock music soundtrack is great and serves as a good pretext for him to exteriorize tension with an indefatigable dance moment.
Eschewing a particularly strong climax, One Week and a Day develops with confidence toward a conclusion that brims with hope, resignation, and finally acceptance.
One Week and a Day (2016) Written and directed by Asaph Polonsky. Starring: Shai Avivi, Evgenia Dodina, Tomer Kapon.
8 out of 10