EIFF 2012 in retrospect: Never Too Late

Having worked steadily making music videos, television advertisements and short films, director Ido Fluk here makes his feature film debut in a carefully crafted drama about about a 30-year old man returning to Israel , after eight years spent traveling in South America.

In the opening scenes, we see Herzl (Nony Geffen) applying for a job hanging posters, his hair chopped but hardly tidy. Later, he eats dinner with his mother who berates him for taking employment that will have him on the road so soon after arriving back in the country. Unable to resolve his decision not to attend his father’s funeral, Herzl is emotionally in limbo. Foregoing the usual flashback, Fluk opts to portray Herzl’s paternal memories in the present, having the genial, but assertive patriarch (Ami Weinberg) accompany his son as a passenger on his journey. Visiting old friends, Herzl is withdrawn and awkward , as though unsure of his surroundings. His return to his homeland was born of necessity rather than choice; this is a man out of touch with the world, struggling to accept his current time and place.

The themes of being adrift and unsettled are played out beautifully, not only with literary references (Herzl reads Robinson Crusoe), but also in the long takes shot from the front seat of the car looking out of the windscreen. Framed tightly from Herzl’s perspective, these scenes show the landscape passing him by, putting his past out of sight. Favouring the soft glow of sunrise and dusk, Fluk and cinematographer Itay Marom further accentuate their aimless protagonist’s fragile sense of place by blurring the distinction between sky and earth. Perfectly attuned to Herzl’s melancholy journey, Asher Goldschmidt’s haunting original score conveys the the sadness of his efforts to regain an identity lost, whilst subtly introducing hopeful notes as out protagonist gradually comes to terms with the weight of his father’s judgement and hid own decision to leave.

Never Too Late marks a further exploration of the subject of mourning, following Fluk’s short film Cooking for Richard, which was about a woman hopelessly grasping at the last remnant of her husband who died “of too much liver pâté”. Here, too, Fluk demonstrates enormous sympathy for his central character , and he does so with a confidence and sensitivity as a director that marks him as a talent to watch.

 

This text first appeared in the EIFF catalogue, published in June 2012.

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