×

Off-White Lies

Balanced on a fulcrum between drama and comedy, director/co-writer Maya Kenig's "Off-White Lies" follows the inevitably rocky relationship of an unemployed man and his teen daughter visiting him in Israel.

With:
With: Gur Bentwich, Elya Inbar, Salit Achi-Miriam, Arad Yeini, Tzahi Grad, Shimon Mimran, Sigal Arad Inbar. (Hebrew, English dialogue)

Balanced on a fulcrum between drama and comedy, director/co-writer Maya Kenig’s “Off-White Lies” follows the inevitably rocky relationship of an unemployed man and his teen daughter visiting him in Israel. Her arrival coincides with bombing attacks by Hezbollah, lending political and ironic dimensions: Dad’s idea for them to pose as refugees is only one of several titular lies. Pic reps a solid inclusion in Berlin’s Generation section after a fine fest run in Jerusalem, Busan and Palm Springs, and will score a host of buyers.

Shaul (Gur Bentwich) picks up daughter Libi (Elya Inbar) at the airport, not having seen her for some time. He reveals that he’s technically without a home at the moment, and even the car he’s driving belongs to lady friend Orly (Sigal Arad Inbar). En route, a bombing occurs, sending them into the nearest shelter, where Shaul notices that Libi is asthmatic.

The script by Kenig and Dana Dimant needlessly holds back certain key bits of information — such as where Libi lives, or the arrangements for her stay — making it hard for audiences to grasp the parameters of this father-daughter relationship, which ultra-mellow Shaul tends to treat more like a friendship. Forever hatching ideas for inventions that never amount to anything, Shaul is a tinkerer as well as an operator: Inspired by a TV report on refugees being hosted by families, he plots for he and Libi to pose as refugees in order to get free housing.

In a too-easy development, well-off Gidi (Tzahi Grad) and his slightly suspicious wife, Halit (Salit Achi-Miriam), open their Jerusalem-area home to Shaul and Libi, sending the film in a new direction that maintains a slightly bemused tone but never sets off outright comic fireworks. (The goofiest it ever gets is Shaul showing Halit one of his inventions, a realistic-looking plastic turd designed to conceal house keys outside the front door.) Tensions arise over how long Shaul — and perhaps more crucially, Libi — can keep up pretenses, especially when Shaul starts testing the limits of Gidi’s open marriage.

The final stages of “Off-White Lies” suffer from an excess of story turns and reversals, transforming what began as a modestly human tale about a dad and his teen finding common ground into something more mechanical. Keeping the film in line, however, are Bentwich’s and Inbar’s well-judged, consistently underplayed performances, which always remain attuned to the characters’ human qualities. Inbar, in particular, impresses as an intelligent if somewhat naive 13-year-old, showing flashes of her Westernization, yet savvy to the daily ways of life in Israel.

Production package is pro but not especially distinguished; the acute location work in northern Israel and Jerusalem is a standout.

Off-White Lies

Israel-France

Production: A Gum Films presentation in co-production with KinoElektron. (International sales: Alpha Violet, Paris.) Produced by Aurit Zamir, Yoav Roeh. Co-producer, Janja Kralj. Directed by Maya Kenig. Screenplay, Kenig, Dana Dimant.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Itai Vinograd; editor, Or Ben David; music, Udi Berner; production designer, Ido Dolev; costume designer, Yael Kredo; sound (stereo), Michael Gurevitch; sound designer, Gurevitch; re-recording mixer, Israel David; assistant director, Avishag Leibowitch; casting, Iris Blumenstein. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (New Voices/New Visions), Jan. 7, 2012. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- Generation 14plus; 2011 Busan, Jerusalem film festivals.) Running time: 89 MIN.

Cast: With: Gur Bentwich, Elya Inbar, Salit Achi-Miriam, Arad Yeini, Tzahi Grad, Shimon Mimran, Sigal Arad Inbar. (Hebrew, English dialogue)

More Scene

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron attends the 44th Annual

    Alfonso Cuarón to LAFCA: 'Thanks to Your Help We Can Break Down Walls'

    Inclusion was the big winner at the L.A. Film Critics Association Awards, which was held Saturday night at the InterContinental in Century City. “This year’s winners are the most diverse in LAFCA’s 43-year history,” announced its president, Claudia Puig, adding that 14 out of their 18 awards were won by women and people of color. [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Max Malandrino/REX/Shutterstock

    Hollywood Power Players Assemble to Save Iconic Deli Nate 'n Al

    A group of Hollywood executives and celebrities have banded together with the intent to save Beverly Hills deli and star haunt Nate ‘n Al, a stone’s throw from tourist destination Rodeo Drive. A consortium of investors including music kingpin Irving Azoff and wife Shelli, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell, and Rande Gerber and [...]

  • Charlie Collier, FOX Chief Executive Officer

    'The Passage' Team Talks Diversifying Races, Genders and Ages of Book Characters

    “The Passage” star Saniyya Sidney was unaware that the book version of her character was originally white until her father, a fan of Justin Cronin’s apocalyptic trilogy, informed her during the audition process. “I was like, ‘Oh, she is?'” Sidney told Variety at Thursday’s series premiere in Santa Monica, Calif. “And when I got it, [...]

  • KiKi Layne and Stephan James'If Beale

    Regina King Praised by 'If Beale Street Could Talk' Co-Stars for New 50/50 Initiative

    Two days had passed since Kiki Layne and Stephan James had attended their first Golden Globes and the “If Beale Street Could Talk” co-stars were still trying to wrap their heads around having been there. “It was such a special night — and pretty unreal,” says James, who was also nominated for his work opposite Julia Roberts [...]

  • Steven Van Zandt, Edie Falco, Tony

    'The Sopranos' 20th Anniversary Reunion: Cast, Producers Remember James Gandolfini

    Jan. 9’s 20th anniversary reunion of the cast and producers of HBO’s “The Sopranos” was a raucous family gathering from its first moments. “I saw a picture of myself in the newspaper,” series creator David Chase said at the start of the event. “And I thought, 20 years. Jesus Christ.” “People come up to me,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content