Natalie Portman wrote, directed, and stars in this adaptation of a memoir by Israeli writer Amos Oz, which recounts his mother’s deepening depression during the establishment of the state of Israel. This was a passion project for Portman, who has worked only sporadically since winning an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan, and her zeal is obvious: every scene is shot in high contrast and scored to solemn string movements. But whereas Oz’s material, at its best, considers the nuances and subtleties of language, Portman’s script reduces his writing to platitudes and cliches. Israel is a sunlit Mediterranean country, but the way Portman films it, you’d think the Jews were still in eastern Europe. In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles.
A Tale of Love and Darkness
PG-13 • 1 hour 38 min • 2016