The oddest of odd couples -- a chronically poor Israeli man in exile and an alcoholic Cambodian woman, neither of whom speaks the other's language -- share two daughters and a curious sense of love in docu "Phnom Penh Lullaby," Polish helmer Pawel Kloc's annoyingly uninvolving debut feature.

The oddest of odd couples — a chronically poor Israeli man in exile and an alcoholic Cambodian woman, neither of whom speaks the other’s language — share two daughters and a curious sense of love in docu “Phnom Penh Lullaby,” Polish helmer Pawel Kloc’s annoyingly uninvolving debut feature. Lensed with immediacy by d.p. and co-writer Przemyslaw Niczyporuk mostly on Phnom Penh’s unfriendly streets, the film seems on the cusp of revelations but then drifts and dawdles. Despite a terrific fest run, commercial prospects even on the tube look slight.

Kloc has stated that he aimed “to make this film as a fiction,” and to treat the camera “like an invisible guest” in the lives of Ilan Schickman and g.f. Saran, futilely trying to raise little girls Marie and Jasmine on Ilan’s earnings as a tarot reader. Much of the activity deals with attempts to place Marie with a relative, since the parents can’t afford to raise her. Their backgrounds are full of tragedy, and yet it’s difficult to become emotionally involved with people who seem not to know how to take care of themselves, let alone kids.

Phnom Penh Lullaby

Poland

Production

A Parallax Film/Polish Film Institute production. (International sales: Krakow Film Foundation, Krakow.) Produced, directed by Pawel Kloc. Written by Kloc, Przemyslaw Niczyporuk.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Niczyporuk; editor, Jacek Tarasiuk; music, Marc Marder. Reviewed at DocuWeeks, Los Angeles, Aug. 26, 2011. (Also in Hot Docs, Moscow, San Francisco Jewish, Reykjavik, Sheffield Documentary film festivals.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Ilan Schickman, Saran, Marie, Jasmine. (English, Hebrew, Khmer dialogue)
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