Even a little lie won’t get you very far.
Dir. Maya Kenig‘s OFF WHITE LIES (2011) is a delicate blend of the drama of a coming of age story and a subtle comedy. Libi (Elya Inbar), a sharp-witted and shy teen who is sent to live with Shaul (Gur Bentwich), in Tel Aviv, a father who hasn’t seen her for some time. Shaul is a homeless inventor without a pillow to rest his head on, and has to depend on the kindness of his limited friends just to have somewhere to sleep. The two embark on a lengthy road trip to the North making little stops and making up little likes along the way. They travel in a car that belongs to a lady friend of Shaul, Orly (Sigal Arad Inbar), who refused to take them in even after he introduced her to Libi.
It didn’t take long for Libi to realize that her father is a bit of an accidental opportunist. With the outbreak of war looming, Shaul decides to use the war as an opportunity to find a host who is willing to take in refugees from the war, and, eventually they find someone to take them in. Gideon (Tzahi Grad), whom Shaul convinces to invest in his latest invention, a “smokeless ashtray,” that would be convenient for smokers who, due to the frequent bombings, spend time in underground bomb shelters. Gideons’ wife, Helit (Salit Achi-Miriam), is more suspicious of Libi and her father. She is eventually won over as Shaul began to test the boundaries of their “open marriage.” Meanwhile, Libi is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with living under false pretenses.
Off White, Lies suffers from inconsistent story changes instead of maintaining a consistent theme that detail Libi becoming reacquainted with her father. Scenes often switch between the mini personal stories–scenes shifting between Shauls’ pursuits, and Libis’ interest in their hosts much older son in an attempt to show that these events are concurrent. The story never disclosed any particular reason Libi went to live with her father. The one scene where she had an opportunity to speak with the mother located in the States provided us with a glimpse of her Westernized vocabulary. Trying to keep up with her father’s continued path of deception only served to circumvent the larger issue–their homelessness and there isn’t anything comedic about that. This film would have been more engrossing if the focus remained on the relationship between Shaul and Libi. Aside from that, Kenig did a spectacular job showcasing the landscapes and locations in northern Israel.
Can’t say anything bad about the scenery. Recommended.
Maya Kenig’s Off White Lies – Crossroads Coproduction Forum, Thessaloniki 2009. Israeli Competition, Jerusalem Film Festival 2011. Nominated in 7 categories for the Israeli Academy award 2011: best film, best director, best leading role – Gur Bentwich, best supporting actor – Tzahi Grad, best editing, best script, best sound editing. Flash Forward section, Busan International Film Festival 2011, Korea. Women Film Festival 2011, Rehovot, Israel. New Voice New Vision competition, Palm Springs International Film Festival 2012, USA. Generation Programm, Berlinale 2012, Germany.