Lust, rape and murder in a Jewish area of Palestine under the British Mandate in 1935 form the background for “On the Edge,” a routine melodrama that harks back to the “Peyton Place” Hollywood of the ’50s for inspiration. Tale of two bad sisters who destroy their father’s happiness is mildly enjoyable but pretty mundane and unlikely to register much interest outside its home turf.
A long, unnecessary opening title fills in the past history of Chaim Weiss, but film proper begins with Chaim (Gedalia Besser), his sickly wife and their daughters, sultry brunette Batsheva (Michaela Eshet) and brooding redhead Riva (Hagit Dasberg) arriving in a small village where Chaim buys an orange orchard.
His wife soon dies, and the girls are furious when he remarries. The gentle Hassida (Miriam Gabriely) is treated very badly by her step-daughters. Meanwhile , after a brief fling with a married man, Batsheva has a passionate affair with a student, which her father discovers and brings to an end. Riva starts going out with her father’s plump, maladroit partner, constantly leading him on and then rejecting him.
A lengthy subplot involves Chaim’s slow-witted orchard manager, who rapes a girl from the district and is murdered by her father. Scenes of demonstrations against the employment of Arab orchard workers gives the film a mild political content.
Decent performances and solid production values boost what is otherwise a pretty mundane pic, but writer and director Amnon Rubinstein is unable to inject the sort of cinematic know-how of a Sirk or a Fassbinder into the proceedings.