Writer-director Savi Gabizon’s “Longing” is a gutsy slice of emotional complexity that straddles an intriguing, if not always successful line between the deeply poignant and the darkly absurd.
Out of the blue, Ariel (Shai Avivi), a well-off, middle-aged factory owner, is informed by ex-college girlfriend Ronit (Assi Levy) that he’s the father of her 19-year-old son, Adam, whose existence she had kept secret from Ariel. As if Ariel isn’t shocked enough, Ronit then reveals that Adam was recently killed in a car accident.
But these are just the first of many bombshells and twists to come as Ariel, with startling candor and persistence, embarks on a crash course in all things — and people — related to the contradictory Adam in a whirlwind attempt to make up for almost 20 lost years of fatherhood.
Adam’s former teacher and mad crush (Neta Riskin), his smitten younger girlfriend (Ella Armony) and the father (Yoram Toledano) of a teen who died by suicide are among those who figure into Ariel’s jigsaw puzzle of a journey.
Unfortunately, as gripping as Ariel and his plight can be, we don’t learn enough about his character to fully justify his extreme personality, one that ricochets from narcissistic to obsessive to compulsive to near-delusional. Still, this is a unique, involving, often provocative film that features one of the strangest weddings you will likely ever see.
In Hebrew with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Playing: Starts Sept. 28, Laemmle Royal Theatre, West Los Angeles