Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman makes her debut as writer and director with this adaptation of the best-selling memoir by celebrated Israeli author Amos Oz.
A Tale of Love and Darkness
In her feature debut as writer and director, Natalie Portman has taken on a formidable task: adapting the award-winning and bestselling memoir of one of Israel's most highly regarded contemporary authors, Amos Oz. Portman's deep understanding of her homeland permeates this touching, dreamlike film, which tells of an immigrant family's struggles even as it positions them within the larger context of a nation's birth.
The film begins in the mid-1940s when Amos (Amir Tessler) is eight years old, living with his father Arieh (Gilad Kahana) and mother Fania (Portman) in British Palestine. The years leading up to the creation of the state of Israel are characterized by escalating tensions between Jews and Arabs — conflicts that mirror the troubled marriage of Amos' parents, both of whom were refugees who fled to Palestine for safety. While the story is told through the eyes of young Amos, it is Fania around whom much of the narrative revolves. She was an intellectual raised in privilege, and now she struggles to accept her adult life as a poor newcomer in a fledgling land, married to a failed academic. Portman sensitively portrays Fania's spiritual desolation and emotional fragility, while allowing her pleasure in her only child to shine.
Born a Klausner, Amos eventually changed his last name to Oz (the Hebrew word for "strength") and broke from his family both emotionally and politically, a move emblematic of his generation's shift away from their parents' views and ideals. Portman's assured direction and impressive visual aesthetic allow the weighty theme of A Tale of Love and Darkness to infuse every frame, making it an extraordinary rendition of Oz's compelling story.