Once you get past the “mother—-er” affectionate razzing between 60-year old Ronnie (Alon Aboutboul) an unemployed Israeli film projectionist visiting his brother in America, Dani Menkin”s film “Is That You?” settles into a meandering yet sweet “life journey” —akin to a romantic variant on Preston Sturges’  film “Sullivan’s Travels” —as the character Ronnie searches for the whereabouts of Rachel—the love of his life whom he let get away.
When his car breaks down, Ronnie is rescued by young [French] filmmaker Myla (Naruna Kaplan de Macedo) who offers him a ride on the condition that he will allow her to photograph his Rachel search odyssey.
The film follows their hit and miss “she was here—now she’s gone” hopeful-then disappointing leads and dead ends during which Ronnie and Myla come face-to-face-with others’ assorted “regret” scenarios: A Holocaust survivor’s angst; a married man who asserts that he and his wife who have been together for 60 years “ thanks to separate beds—which is why we have lasted so long.” There is relief in an occasional emotional dessert— a traffic cop who sings “La Donna Mobile.”
As the “now she’s here—now she’s there” search progresses, there develops a touching Spring-Autumn relationship between the lovelorn Ronnie and oh so emotionally needy Myla.
Following the August 26th opening screening at Cinema Village, got to chat with very forthcoming author-director Dani:
ML: Is any of the film autobiographical? The film has a universal kind of reality—everyone has some kind of regret—often it’s a romantic misstep in the past.
DM: All the characters are fiction…I made them all up.
ML: How did you pick your actors?
DM: I auditioned…Alon is one of the top actors in Israel…there was something he liked about my previous films and I love his acting.
ML: Was it impromptu or scripted?
DM: Everything was scripted, though I did let them improvise…maybe this way they would relive their own lives.
ML: Where was the film shot?
DM: In Syracuse, Upstate New York
Our conversation about regrets ended with Dani half-seriously adding, “They may regret not seeing this movie.
“Is That You?” in Hebrew and English with English subtitles will be at Cinema Village through September 1st.