Last updated September 5th 2016
One Week and A Day, Asaph Polonsky’s debut feature, takes on a serious theme with sensitivity, honesty, warmth and humor. Sometimes in our lives there is a shift, a moment in which the ground slips out from under our feet, it feels like there’s nowhere to stand, and we can only fall. In that moment, nothing holds true and nothing makes sense anymore, and yet, life keeps going on. How does one take that next step?
One Week and A Day follows Eyal and Vicky Spivak on the day after the shiva (Jewish ritual mourning period) for their 25-year-old son Ronnie has ended. Jewish culture creates a structure for dealing with the ravages of loss, designating a time and place for grief, ensuring that the mourners are not left alone in their time of need, with guidelines for all. Yet in the depths of pain, everything can feel absurd, dwarfed by the endless magnitude of loss. Polonsky exaggerates the absurd, offering it up in exquisite bizarre detail, touching on the harsh truths of sorrow, and the strange ways in which healing may be found.
Shai Avivi and Evgenia Dodina deliver outstanding performances as Eyal and Vicky, each confronting their individual demons and dilemmas. Avivi’s Eyal is bursting at the seams with a raging grief, a violent emotion that fills his entire being, erupting at unexpected moments. He is an angry man, with a brutal honesty to his anger. When his neighbors (a very nice comic note by Carmit Mesilati-Kaplan) who have kept their distance ever since Ronnie fell ill, offer the traditional words of comfort “May you know no more sorrow,” he snaps back “We will, we will,” as he shoves them out the door.
Vicky stoically adheres to the structure of everyday routine. Once the shiva is over, she dyes her hair to cover the gray, and creates a façade of normal to cover her grief. Dodina imbues Vicky with powerful resolve, fortitude, and an almost intimidating competence. When the almost imperceptible cracks in her façade reveal her sorrow, it is heart-wrenching.
Eyal goes back to the hospice where Ronnie spent his final months to look for the colorful blanket they forgot there. He is bound for disappointment, because he cannot find what he really wants. There is nothing he or anyone else can do that will bring his son back. A young man too weak to talk lies in what used to be Ronnie’s room, the blanket is nowhere in sight, but he points Eyal in the direction of something else that has been left behind: a package of medicinal weed.
While Vicky goes through the motions of ‘normal’ – going back to her teaching job, jogging in the park – Eyal moves in the opposite direction. On this journey he finds an unlikely new companion, Zooler, his neighbor’s slacker son, and a former childhood friend of his son. Tomer Kapon has an irrepressible spark, his comic presence jazzes up the film, as his character Zooler in a crazy, irrational way, helps Eyal make peace with life.
One Week and A Day
Written and directed by Asaph Polonsky; Cinematography: Moshe Mishali; Editor: Tali Halter Shenkar; Music: Tamar Aphek, Ran Bagno; Production designer: Yoav Sinai; Costume designer: Chen Oshri; Sound: Aviv Aldema; Producers: Black Sheep Productions; Cast: Shai Avivi, Evgenia Dodina, Tomer Kapon, Alona Shauloff, Sharon Alexander, Carmit Mesilati-Kaplan, Uri Gavriel. (Hebrew dialogue)
One Week and A Day will be opening in Israeli theatres on September 8th, preview screenings will be taking place this coming weekend, check the film’s facebook page for details.