Dir: Asaf Korman. Israel. 2014. 90mins
An impressively sustained family drama driven by a strikingly fine lead performance by Liron Ben Shlush (also screenwriter and wife of director Asaf Korman), Next To Her (At Li Layla) may well be a familiar story of the pressures between family pressures and love but it always feel tense and intriguing.
There is a high level of tense drama sustained through the film with Ben Shlush especially fine as a woman trying to do her very best but destined to never quite succeed.
In his debut feature Korman (formerly an editor) makes great use of the charismatic Ben Shlush, who plays a busy and driven young Israeli woman dedicated to taking care of her mentally handicapped sister while also trying to find her own direction in life. The film screened in Director’s Fortnight, and while never an easy sell, it is an impressively dense and claustrophobic film that should well get further festival exposure.
Security guard Chelli (Ben Shlush) looks after her disabled sister Gabby (Dana Ivgy), doing her best to provide a caring environment but ending up often leaving her alone and locked away, and making things more complex for both women. When Chelli meets gym teacher Zohar (Yaakov Daniel Zada) things take a change of direction with him seeming to offer a change of direction and the possibility of a more secure environment.
He moves in with the sisters and for a while it seems that there can be something more settled, allowing Gabby to have an environment where she can flourish, but tensions soon rise – especially given the intensely close relationship between Gabby and Chelli – and things are destined not to end happily. It is all relatively predictable stuff, but there is a high level of tense drama sustained through the film with Ben Shlush especially fine as a woman trying to do her very best but destined to never quite succeed.
Equally fine is Ivgy who gives her all on a very physically demanding performance, while director Korman is impressively aided by cinematographer Amit Yasour is making the most of the tense and claustrophobic locations (the film mainly takes place in Chelli’s flat) as the threesome struggle to find space.
Production company: 2-Team Productions
International sales: Films Boutique, www.filmsboutique.com
Producers: Haim Mecklberg, Estee Yacov Mecklberg
Executive producers: Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, Yigal Mograbi
Screenplay: Liron Ben Shlush
Cinematography: Amit Yasour
Editors: Shira Hochman, Asaf Korman
Production designer: Ron Zikno
Main cast: Liron Ben Shlush, Dana Ivgy, Yaakov Daniel Zada, Carmit Mesilati-Kaplan, Varda Ben Hur