The fateful contract between a secular Israeli army officer and a devout young Holocaust survivor has profound and unexpected consequences, in this sprawling, decades-spanning epic from director Yossi Madmony (Restoration).
Contemporary World Cinema
A Place in Heaven
A Place in Heaven, the newest film from Yossi Madmony (whose Restoration played the Festival in 2011), is a sprawling epic spanning forty years, three wars, and countless characters. The genesis of the story is based on a particular, and peculiar, tenet of Jewish religious law that allows for the trade of a person's place in heaven.
In the nascent years of Israel, an outstanding officer nicknamed Bambi (Alon Aboutboul) returns from a mission. He is met by a young army cook, a religious Holocaust survivor who believes there is a special place in heaven for those willing to sacrifice their lives for others. The cook offers the officer a month's worth of tasty shakshuka, his favourite meal, in exchange for his seat in heaven — a trade the secular soldier is only too happy to make.
Director Madmony's exploration of the ensuing decades of the soon-to-be general's life — his sacrifices in pursuit of the woman he loves, his aching desire for a son, his inability to mould that son into his own image — shows us a personal history inextricably entwined with the history of a nation; in both, frailty, pride, and sheer stubbornness abound.
Madmony is fearless in tackling big
themes: parenthood, death, and the fear
that one's legacy is not exactly turning out
as hoped. In doing so, he provides us with
a gripping, densely layered tale of love,
betrayal, and faith, as told through the eyes
of a father and son locked within a devotion
to, and denial of, each other.