A Tale of Love and Darkness is a bridge for Natalie Portman’s filmmaking career after directing two short films (one of which acts as a highlight in the otherwise uneven anthology New York, I Love You).
This transition into a longer narrative is a dry yet appealing move for Portman, who has also adapted the screenplay from Amos Oz’s memoir – writings that recount the author’s childhood in Jerusalem. As seen in past coming-of-age movies, Portman stations much of the film’s perspective from young Amos (Amir Tessler) as he observes his mother’s composed distress, his father’s patience as a writer, and many other views from acquaintances and friends of the family.
Portman has written an adequate screenplay that captures nuanced emotions in a time when Oz’s culture was under attack. However, the budding filmmaker has a way with the camera that allows her to add a dreamy haze to the film. She respects the material and the strife each character deals with, but the ongoing visual trance Portman establishes with soft lighting emphasizes Oz’s flowering comprehension as a child looking onto adult situations.
A Tale of Love and Darkness is a win for Natalie Portman. I’m excited to see her apply these filmmaking strengths to lighter fare.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie