The first Israeli feature produced with crowd-sourced funding, minimalist indie “Never Too Late” is a good-looking, formally rigorous road movie that becomes increasingly involving as it motors along. As the protagonist drives his late father’s battered Volvo through varied landscapes rarely seen in Israeli cinema, he must come to terms with considerable emotional baggage as well as the contents of his father’s old suitcase, still in the car’s trunk. Cerebral, controlled pic marks helmer-writer Ido Fluk as a talent to watch and reps quality content for fests that nurture challenging fare.After his army service, 30-year-old Herzl (Nony Geffen) spent eight years traveling throughout South America, avoiding the expectations of his stern father (Ami Weinberg). His refusal to return home for his father’s funeral now haunts him, but it’s never too late to make amends, or is it? Ever restless and lacking ambitions or prospects, Herzl accepts solitary work hanging advertising posters for a dating service with the slogan “Never Too Late” in cities throughout the country. As he goes about his daily routine, his memories of his father become so intense that they take on physical shape, which Fluk visualizes by having the older man ride and converse with his son. On his travels, which take him to north to Safed and south to Eilat, Herzl also makes contact with an old army buddy, now a married father; a sexy former girlfriend (Keren Berger); and a philosophical stranger (Eyal Rozales), whom he saves from drowning. But the contents of the suitcase dictate the last and most poignant stop. Fluk doles out narrative information sparingly, and sometimes not at all. Although some viewers may feel frustrated, those attentive to the pic’s mood and detail will find it truly moving. Sharply produced on a micro-budget, the pic sports a mesmerizing score and attractive widescreen lensing from the same digital camera that Danny Boyle used to shoot “Slumdog Millionaire” (a loan from an Israeli-American businessman who read about the production’s fund drive and wanted to help). Fluk, who studied at NYU, already has a second feature lined up with Christine Vachon’s Killer Films that is in the casting stage.
A Green Prods. production with the support of the Israel Film Fund. Produced by Ido Fluk, Gal Greenspan, Roi Kurland. Directed, written by Ido Fluk.
Camera (color, widescreen, DV), Itay Marom; editor, Assaf Lapid; music, Asher Goldschmidt; production designer, Yiftach Shapira; sound, Gadi Raz. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, Nov. 26, 2011. (In Haifa Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 96 MIN.
Nony Geffen, Ami Weinberg, Pira Kantor, Keren Berger, Eyal Rozales, Shifra Milstein.