Lewis Carroll meets Carol Reed in this dizzyingly funny and fantastical farce from Israeli director Avi Nesher, about a good-natured slacker who becomes embroiled in a labyrinthine conspiracy in the weird criminal-religious underbelly of Jerusalem.

Contemporary World Cinema

The Wonders

Avi Nesher

Anything can happen in Jerusalem. Just ask Ariel Navon (Ori Hizkiah), a bartender, art-school dropout, and compulsive cartoonist whose pleasantly mundane existence is turned upside down late one night after he spots a strange flash of blue light emanating from an apparently vacant building. His investigation yields an encounter with a dazed man who looks like Rasputin but turns out to be famed modern-day prophet Rabbi Knafo (Yehuda Levi). Is Knafo being held against his will? And who would do such a thing?

Soon, a private investigator (Adir Miller) and his mysterious and lovely redheaded client (Yuval Scharf ) are roping Ariel into planting hidden cameras in Knafo's hideaway and allowing his apartment to be used for surveillance. It's hard to know who to trust. It's even harder for Ariel to suppress his curiosity as he delves into the weird criminal-religious labyrinth of Israel's dizzyingly diverse capital.

Veteran director Avi Nesher's latest is a hoot. There are red herrings, unlikely alliances, and cartoons that come to life when no one is looking. Given its irreverent genre mixing, The Wonders shows a kinship with the films of the Coen brothers and Woody Allen and the novels of Michael Chabon. (Nesher himself describes The Wonders as Lewis Carroll meets Carol Reed.) Both Hizkiah and Miller are stand-up comics with impeccable timing, and they fully commit to creating complex, compelling characters with much at stake.

A cautionary tale about gurus and an homage to one of the world's most beautiful but little-understood cities, The Wonders will yank you down into its own cleverly conceived rabbit hole.

JANE SCHOETTLE

Contemporary World Speakers

Ron Levi, Director of the Master of Global Affairs at the Munk School, is an expert on global justice and human rights regimes. He will speak about The Wonders in an extended Q&A session following the screening. Visit tiff.net/worldspeakers to find out more. Special thanks to the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.

Screenings

Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 4

Regular
6:45pm
Mon Sep 09

Scotiabank 9

Industry
11:30am
Tue Sep 10

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Regular
3:15pm
Sun Sep 15

Scotiabank 3

Regular
12:15pm