This small-scale drama of exile and yearning strikes nary a false note in depicting the dilemma of Oded (Chaim Hadaya), an Israeli architect with an unshown wife, kids and career in the US, but roots in Tel Aviv.
Having finally arranged a free week to spend with his parents, Oded flies in to find an attractive boarder, Hebrew-speaking Russian emigre Svetlana (Genia Chernik), living in his very bedroom. She claims to be a teacher-turned-cleaning-woman with a small son and an absent, estranged husband.
Oded's aged mother (Ruth Farchi) and father (Isaac Shilo) are captivated by her--perhaps a little too captivated, as Oded observes that, even as they implore him to stay permanently in Israel, they have virtually adopted this stranger as a surrogate offspring. Meanwhile, the architect encounters
friends from his youth and potential business partners, all of whom try to convince him to return to his homeland.
Foremost in Oded's thoughts are his parents, whose health and judgment he begins to question when he learns they let Svetlana handle family business affairs. Then Oded glimpses Svetlana apparently turning tricks by night on a city street corner, and he loses no time in denouncing her as a
predatory prostitute. It turns out be a terrible misunderstanding, but Svetlana now senses the degree of Oded's resentment and departs. At the end of the week, Oded boards his flight back to his other family in the USA, more troubled than ever over where he truly belongs.
THE DISTANCE is an eloquently understated production with the quiet confidence to let minor domestic details convey the hero's sense of alienation and divided allegiances. Oded's father previously forbade cards as "a filthy, capitalist game"; now the old man regularly plays it with Svetlana.
Oded's beloved nanny, now senile and paranoid, no longer trusts this latter-day Prodigal Son. Dan Wolman, long a figure in native Israeli screen and stage, freely borrowed elements of his own life for THE DISTANCE, shooting scenes in his actual parents' home and reemploying nonprofessional actor
Hadaya (a lawyer by trade), who previously played a younger version of Wolman in the filmmaker's autobiographical HIDE AND SEEK (1979). Although THE DISTANCE, Wolman's first theatrical feature in nearly ten years, enjoyed little commercial exhibition even within Israel, critical recognition came
when it took First Prize in the Jerusalem Film Festival. (Adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: This small-scale drama of exile and yearning strikes nary a false note in depicting the dilemma of Oded (Chaim Hadaya), an Israeli architect with an unshown wife, kids and career in the US, but roots in Tel Aviv. Having finally arranged a free week to spe… (more)