A Quiet Heart


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

A Quiet Heart
"It's an amazing piece of work from writer/director Eitan Anner."

A Quiet Heart confidently and convincingly explores conflicts as simple as the millenia-long exchanges between the Abrahamic religions in the Holy Land and as complex as residential parking permits. It draws from interiors as measured and majestic as pre-fabricated concrete high-rise flats and as sprawling and tawdry as fortified churches.

Ania Bukstein is Naomi, a musician, albeit one who has lost connection with music, a recent immigrant to Jerusalem, but less orthodox (in either sense) than her new neighbours. Affecting, tense, it's a small-scale thriller reminiscent of films like Brick - it has a noir-ish cast to it, a particular supra-urban menace. It's an amazing piece of work from writer/director Eitan Anner, her third feature but her first in almost a decade. Deftly navigating landscapes both political and rooftop (with drops as potentially precipitous but physically and figuratively) her film is rooted in Bukstein's performance. Special mention must also be made of the roles played by Lior Lifshitz who plays her young neighbour Simcha in a debut role, and Giorgio Lupano's Father Fabrizio. Lupano's a veteran actor, but international audiences are most likely to know him from small roles in The International and Bryan Fuller's Hannibal. In each case, the involvement of men in Naomi's life is complicated, inflected by music, and draws judgement from without.

The narrowly defined scope of the film's central conflicts (a stairwell in an apartment block, a gate in an alleyway) belies the shadows that are cast by them - an implicatory parallalax, say, an angle drawn wide across the world. It's in that tight but deep focus that the film really shines.

Circumstances, even landscape, are at times Byzantine, but Jerusalem is one of a handful of places where that may cease to be metaphor. A Quiet Heart is brave enough to navigate them, skilled enough to do so in a way that is passionate without verging on the polemic, and compelling - in a place where every act bears potential overtones both political and religious, with history and authority and piety and even morality stacked storeys deep, phrases like "this isn't the ghetto yet" are fraught with weight. Talking of musicianship, there's an observation "we play what's in front of us". With an almost documentary eye, A Quiet Heart does just the same, and in a manner that displays finesse.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2018
Share this with others on...
A secular young woman takes an apartment in an Orthodox part of Jerusalem, sparking religious tension.

Director: Eitan Anner

Writer: Eitan Anner

Starring: Ania Bukstein, Rona-Lee Shim'on, Giorgio Lupano, Uri Gottlieb, Yoav Levi, Irit Kaplan, Lior Lifshitz, Ludi Boken

Year: 2016

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Israel


EIFF 2017

Search database: