Ha-hesder (“Time of Favor”)

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Time of Favor (in Hebrew, Ha-hesder) is Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar’s 2000 debut film, starring Aki Avni. The film plays out a psychologically complex love triangle in the middle of conflict in Israel’s West Bank.
The New York Times called it an “art house thriller,” and the Los Angeles Times said it was “one of the most successful contemporary Israeli films.”

Andy Orrock (Dallas, TX) Amazon.com

The real star of ‘Time of Favor’ is cinematographer Ofer Inov. About half the movie takes place at night & the actors appear bathed in an almost bluish tint, with glowing eyes. It’s a superb effect.

I can see why this movie swept the Israeli version of the Oscars for films released in 2000. It’s a well-told, gripping saga of a confrontation between the religious and secular forces that push for ascendancy in Israel. Contrary to what we may think back here in the States, there’s a healthy skepticism and mistrust in many parts of Israeli society of the ultra-religious, especially when mixed into national institutions like the Army.

Throw in West Bank settlement politics, a messianic rabbi, his flowering daughter, an unbalanced star Torah student, a studly company commander, the Mossad, a star-crossed love triangle…and you’ve got yourself a very compelling movie.

My only problem: the ending is a little too melodramatic and over the top; but it’s still a good ride.

‘Time of Favor’ is in Hebrew with English subtitles. The subtitles are very legible and well-timed. Certain untranslatable words and concepts are transliterated from Hebrew and presented in quotes. All in all, the subtitled version of the film loses none of the emotion and subtlety of the original.

The movie, which won six Israeli Academy Awards (including best picture), has its narrative glitches and incongruities. But as it builds to a series of life-or-death showdowns, it evokes the volatile political climate of Israel today with an unsettling intensity (more in “New York Times” review)


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