Review: ‘White Night’

Produced, directed by Arnon Zadok. Screenplay, Yoav Halevy, Zadok, based on a book by Shlomo Kfir. Aprison film with a heart of gold, "White Night" is a smoothly narrated all-male drama, fairly engrossing for those with a taste for the genre. Despite B&W lensing and use of real inmates in a real prison, it comes up short on hard-hitting realism, onscreen violence and fashionable cynicism, which dates it a bit and targets it for softer TV auds.

Produced, directed by Arnon Zadok. Screenplay, Yoav Halevy, Zadok, based on a book by Shlomo Kfir. Aprison film with a heart of gold, “White Night” is a smoothly narrated all-male drama, fairly engrossing for those with a taste for the genre. Despite B&W lensing and use of real inmates in a real prison, it comes up short on hard-hitting realism, onscreen violence and fashionable cynicism, which dates it a bit and targets it for softer TV auds.

Based on a book by prison warden Shlomo Kfir, story focuses on idealistic new inmate Shlomo (Sharon Alexander) and his unlikely friendship with tough prison boss Charlie (Shalom Shmuelov.) Doing time for assault and battery on a hellish drug-infested ward, Shlomo naively decides to help Charlie “come clean” so they can both move to the more humane no-drug wing. With the help of a warden (Shmil Ben Ari), he succeeds in walking Charlie through the painful withdrawal process.

Lots of sincere feeling comes through the pic, co-scripted by helmer-producer Arnon Zadok, a leading Israeli actor making his directing debut. He also takes on the nasty role of a lascivious cell boss who deals drugs and forces a weak young inmate to become his sexual slave. Though nothing more than a massage is shown onscreen, it’s clear what’s up.

Cellmates Shmuelov and Alexander make an odd couple of buddies, whose dominant/powerless roles gradually reverse into that of patient and therapist. As Charlie struggles through withdrawal hell, Shlomo becomes his guardian angel. Laced with humorous touches and a happy end, pic explicitly tips its hat to the Israeli prisons’ drug rehab program, leaving auds with the warm and unusual feeling that somewhere, the system is working.

White Night

(LAILA LAVIN)

Production

(ISRAELI) An Eres Film release (in Israel) of a Creative Films production.

Crew

Camera (B&W/color), Opher Harari; editor, Zohar Sela, Dani Shick; music, Arik Rudik. Reviewed at Haifa Film Festival, Oct. 10, 1995. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Charlie ... Shalom Shmuelov Shlomo ... Sharon Alexander Drug boss ... Arnon Zadok Warden ... Shmil Ben Ari
With: Liora Rivlin.
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