You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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: 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


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

  • The CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 Honoring

    Pixar's Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

    Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But [...]

  • Sasha Pieterse, Eli Brown, Sydney Park

    'Pretty Little Liars' Spinoff Unexpectedly Coincides With College Admissions Scandal

    It was a case of art imitating life at Saturday night’s Hollywood premiere of “The Perfectionists” — Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff about a scandal involving college students striving for excellence by any means necessary. The TV show’s debut was coincidently preceded by a real-life college scandal involving Hollywood celebrities who allegedly didn’t let a [...]

  • Keira Knightley'The Aftermath' film screening, Arrivals,

    Keira Knightley Talks 'Aftermath,' Alexander Skarsgård and Another Itchy Wardrobe

    The reigning queen of period pieces, Keira Knightley, knows a thing or two about historical clothing. “Lining. Lining is always important,” the Oscar-nominated actress playfully advised on Wednesday at the premiere of her post-WWII drama “Aftermath.” “If you get a lot of itchy stuff always put lining in it. I have learned that from having [...]

  • Priyanka Chopra

    Priyanka Chopra to Speak at the 2019 Women in the World Summit (EXCLUSIVE)

    Priyanka Chopra has just been added to the star-studded list of speakers at the 2019 Women in the World Summit. Chopra, who will be interviewed on stage by Women in the World founder Tina Brown, will discuss her career as an activist and entrepreneur. Recently, the “Baywatch” actress joined forces with Serena Williams in investing [...]

  • Jessica Chastain arrives at the 2019

    Jessica Chastain on Continuing to 'Balance the Scales' for Gender Parity in Hollywood

    Jessica Chastain‘s work for gender parity in Hollywood isn’t slowing down soon. “I have noticed, of course, now that it’s in fashion there are other people that are jumping on board, and honestly, I don’t care what their motives are,” Chastain tells Variety. “Because at the end of the day, the more we focus on [...]

  • 10 Latinxs to Watch

    Variety's 10 Latinxs to Watch Brunch Celebrates Diversity in the Community

    Saturday afternoon brought rising Latinx filmmakers and actors together at Variety’s 10 Latinxs to Watch brunch held in partnership with the 36th annual Miami Film Festival. The festive celebration, which took place at the JW Marquis Marriott’s Boulud Sud restaurant, featured a panel discussion moderated by Variety’s Malina Saval with the following five select individuals [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content