The Farewell Party

This is what people mean when they talk about Jewish humor: deep, dark, philosophical laughs that can melt into tragedy without warning. At a retirement home in Jerusalem, an amateur inventor (Ze’ev Revach) builds a suicide machine to help end the agony of a terminally ill friend, but once word gets out, everyone wants in on the contraption. The gags in the movie’s first half are so unapologetically mordant that I was disappointed to see them dwindle to nothing in the second, as so often happens in stories like this one; a late subplot involving Alzheimer’s disease draws heavily on Sarah Polley’s poignant Away From Her (2006), further diluting the eccentric take on suffering and death. Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon directed their own script. In Hebrew with subtitles.